People have time to time asked me what “g/1” means in my e-mail signature.
It stands for the phrase that I often use in my conversation & sermons.
It is also a testimony of my life.
It is an algebraic fraction to remind me every day, every moment to never forget who I am.
It stands for one under grace.
When we plant our first home church in Taichung, Taiwan, its name will undoubtedly be Grace Fellowship.
If you know my life verse as being 2 Corinthians 4:7, it will not take a lot to know why grace means everything to me. Paul says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
What is so amazing about grace is that it has to the power to change hearts that no coercion or manipulation or incentives can accomplish.
The human heart is the hardest to change. People try by applying many means, but what usually happens is that although behavior may change, the heart remains the same.
Our only hope for changing the heart is grace.
In Luke 22:61-62 record how after Peter denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus “turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”
I believe this to be the turning point for Peter’s amazing transformation because the look that Jesus gave him wasn’t, “I told you so,” but “I STILL love you…” And his heart is broken. It was not condemnation, but forgiveness that changed Peter’s heart. Peter knew that he didn’t deserve such love.
We are all living under God’s grace both Christians & non-Christians. There’s a term in theology called common grace, and it is grace that God pours out on all humanity without discrimination. Without it there would only be chaos in the world for it is only “in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).” Therefore the question is never, “Has God been gracious with us?” because that’s given, but the real question is, “Have we internalized the grace God has shown us?” Have we truly understood what has taken place in our lives?
The bottom line is when we have experienced & truly understood God’s grace upon our lives, it will lead to worship & thankfulness, of course, but most logically IT WILL LEAD TO US BEING GRACIOUS.
The undeniable truth here is that God’s graciousness should beget graciousness in us.
In Luke 6:27-29, Jesus explains a rather challenging will of God, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also…”
It sounds impossible, and it is if we see this merely as a command to be obeyed. Let me rephrase that. It is possible for us to produce the expected behaviors like praying for those who have hurt us or even turning our other cheek, but I will argue that it will not feel right. The only way that we can live the above prescription is if & only if we understand the last verse of this teaching by Jesus. It is recorded in v. 36. Jesus tells us the reason why we can. He says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
God’s grace begets grace in our lives.
But it is more accurate to say, God’s grace fully understood & internalized begets grace in our lives because we see quite a different outcome of mercy shown in Matthew 18:21-35.
It is the parable of the unmerciful servant.
In the story, the king cancelled the debt of a servant, which amounted to ten thousand talents. Ten thousand talents were equivalent to ten thousand bags of gold, so it was incomprehensible that anyone would do this, but this is what the king did purely out of mercy. To say that the servant’s circumstance has changed would be an understatement. But this same servant, when he ran into a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii or a hundred silver coins, instead of extending mercy, he throws him into prison.
According to this parable, grace if not properly handled can lead to pride, hardness of hearts & even hurtful actions. Slavery, crusades & inquisitions are all examples of grace mishandled.
Let’s go back to the challenging commands in Luke 6:27-29. It may be that these are not so much commands, but rather tests to expose whether we truly understand that we are living under God’s grace.
Nothing bothered Apostle Paul, not mistreatment, not imprisonment, not insult and certainly not physical afflictions because for him, Jesus’ grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
His grace is indeed sufficient to change us from within to give us a new set of eyes to see all things under a different light & hearts that are gracious to those around us.
One thing I ask of the Lord is that my family & I will be agents of grace in Taiwan, so that others may also live under our Lord’s grace.