Grace

Bible passage

Ephesians 2: 1-10

Reflection

Modern society believes that you should get what you deserve. Perhaps society has always believed this. That’s why we have a suspicion of those struggling to live on benefits (‘scroungers’, receiving ‘handouts’) and of overpaid footballers and bankers. People whose income looks suspiciously unearned.

God is not like that. The Easter story, with its cross and its promise of eternal life, is a story of unearned blessing. The Christmas story, welcoming rich travellers and poor shepherds alike to the manger, is a story of God’s love for all people, earned or otherwise. The parables that Jesus tells, of cheating tax collectors being forgiven, or of workers in the vineyard all being paid the same, are often parables about people getting precisely what they don’t deserve. Jesus’ miracles are stories of healing without a price being paid, or of bread, fish or the finest wine for those who hadn’t planned ahead.

And that’s grace: the knowledge that we have, as Paul puts it, “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but that God’s love for us is still unimaginably deep. That we have not earned that love, but that it is ours anyway, freely and undeservedly given.

Practical action

Try spending five minutes every morning reminding yourself that God loves you completely and utterly, and that this love is unconnected to how much you’ve earned it. No matter how worthy or unworthy you feel, God’s love is still phenomenal. It might be hard to believe, but persevere.

Then, through the day, remind yourself how much God loves the people you encounter. The people who annoy you, the people who upset you, the people in the news, the people in your life – God loves them all.

Over time, feel the knowledge of this love transform your own love and life.

Prayer

Loving God of grace, thank you for the depth of your love, so rich yet undeserved. Fill me with love – love of you, love of my neighbour, love of myself. Let that love transform me. And through me and all who experience your grace, let your love transform the world.

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Written by Revd Dr Catrin Harland, Methodist chaplain at the University of Sheffield