Grace is a weighty subject.
Grace frees us to be who we were created to be. It frees us to be out of bondage – from self, others, and sin. Grace frees us to live reconnected to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Spirit our Advocate. Grace is a free gift from God, which we do not deserve; a gift of pardon and freedom we cannot earn by our own merit. Grace is a celebration of God’s freeing love towards His people, through the work of the Trinity. The depths of grace lavished upon you and me is crazy, Church.
As much as grace is freeing, it is also constraining.
Grace constrains us to be who we were created to be. It constrains us to be out of bondage – from self, others, and sin. Grace constrains us to live reconnected to the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit. Grace is a secure gift from God, which we do not deserve; a way of pardon and freedom we cannot earn by our own merit. Grace is a celebration of God’s compelling love towards His Church, such as you and I. The way grace holds us in custody by God’s love for His purpose is something to embrace, and not reject.
There is a balance in God’s grace: a compelling to be free beyond the past, and a freedom to be compelled by Someone greater. Nothing else holds me captive but the presence of Christ Himself. Or at least that’s how I am supposed to be compelled by grace. Surely this is what Paul implies in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. (AMP)”
Alas, I am human, and my heart is prone to being divided. Yet there is grace for even this – for all of us. It is in the day-to-day that I must remind myself, I belong to Another. I have been set apart, promised to, given to, Another. I am not my own.
“For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us”
The greek word “control” is sunecho (συνéχω), which means: to confine, secure, stop, afflict, compel; to hold fast, hold together, hold in custody. Paul uses “control” in this passage in the present tense, expressing an ongoing action in the day-to-day. The love of Christ, therefore, has compelled and continues to compel me to live for Christ daily.
The control is not one of legalism. It is not one of law. It is not one of force. The control stems from a great love, which moved One to give His life for another because of no other reason. This love of God woos us, bidding all to take Him at His word, and let go off the temporal for the eternal. At times, this love is convicting, showing us a picture of His image, saying, “Come be who I created you to be.”
Christ has given His 100% to us ever before asking us to give ours – even knowing that some of us would barely give 60% or less. He is a lover all in before the relationship even starts, and He continues to be all in no matter how rocky the relationship becomes. It’s not so much about our “perfect” performance as it is about who He is and who we are in Him.
You and I are loved beyond belief.
You and I are constrained by God’s love more than we allow ourselves to be.
“…all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves”
When I got engaged to my wife, Emily, I acknowledged before her and all who knew us that I was committing myself to her, and her alone (we actually got engaged on TV, so many people we didn’t even know saw this commitment, too). The engagement was no cake-walk. I had never been committed to anyone before on this level. Many times I wanted to walk away, or even secretly try to straddle the fence and be “uncommitted.” But I couldn’t, because I was in love. My heart had been captured in a way that I never experienced before (and have never since). The more I got to know Emily, the deeper in love I became, and the more I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
It also helped to know that Emily was invested into our relationship, too. It wasn’t one-sided; we were together in this, united if you will. We didn’t force change on each other. We were compelled to change out of respect and care for one another, not duty. And this continues some 13-years later. There is joy in growing as one: joy on the mountains and in the valleys. As I look back, we grew the deepest and closest when going through the muck together.
In a way, this resembles our relationship with Christ.
As He acknowledged His love for us on the Cross, we acknowledge our love for Him in the way we live. On the day we came into relationship with Him, we became united with Him – we became promised to Him, and Him alone. Just as Christ committed His life to us, so we committed our life to Him the day we “took His name.” And when this “engagement” is over, we will be “married” for all eternity. This thought alone should free us and compel us to not be who we used to be, but to be who He has called us to be (i.e. Ephesians 4:1, 5:1).
There is joy in growing as one: joy on the mountains and in the valleys. As I look back, Christ and I have grown the deepest and closest when going through the muck together.
I am compelled to be free beyond my past, and free to be compelled by Someone greater.
In Christ, we all are, by His grace.