I don’t think there is ever a calm feeling when there are red and blue flashing lights in the rearview mirror. Think about when you’re driving down the highway and you see a police car checking everyone’s speed. Instinct kicks in and you probably step on the brakes, or at least let off the accelerator, even if you are already going the speed limit or lower. When an officer is behind you with their lights flashing, your blood pressure probably spikes a little bit as your pulse starts to race.
Just over a month ago, a police officer followed me for about a mile and then proceeded to pull me over. I wasn’t sure what was going on until he informed me that my registration was expired. My inspection was also expired since they generally go hand-in-hand in Pennsylvania. After checking everything over in his cruiser, he returned with a citation for the expired registration and a warning for the inspection. The officer’s mercy was generous and I thanked him for not hitting me with fines for both offenses.
Before sending me on my way, the officer encouraged me to take care of my registration online and to file a plea of “not guilty” in regards to the citation. Having seen that I have a clean driving record, he said that the judge would likely drop the charges if I were to take care of the registration the same day. I took his advice, registered my car for two years online, and filed my not guilty plea.
The court hearing was two days ago, and the judge did just as the officer suggested. I didn’t even have to say a word. After the judge read the charges, the officer stated that I was cooperative, and had taken care of the issue. The judge then said he would reduce the citation to a warning and dismissed me from the courtroom.
I am grateful that both the officer and judge extended mercy to me. I was forgiven and released with warnings. That’s the way we often look at our relationship with God. We often want to be forgiven for the things we do just so we can go on with our lives. The cost of sin is death (Romans 6:23). We all want to be forgiven so we don’t have to experience death or hell. We all want mercy, but God offers so much more.
God offers us grace. As I was sitting in the courtroom waiting for the judge to come in, I was listening to the conversation the officer was having with another officer. He was talking about a classic muscle car that he had been restoring. This past week, he had it running under its own power for the first time in 18 years.
Grace Goes Beyond Mercy
If the officer wanted to offer me grace, he might have started by inviting me into that conversation. We might then begin to develop a relationship. I’d have the opportunity to take his muscle car for a spin and experience its power. Then he’d toss me the keys and say it’s all mine. I’d drive that car everywhere, and make sure people knew how I got it. It sounds crazy, but that is what grace is like.
Jesus has invited us into the conversation. He wants a relationship with us. As we lean into that relationship, we begin to recognize the power of The Holy Spirit upon us. We get the opportunity to experience His power, and He promised to always be with us and inside of us. We are sent with The Holy Spirit to point people back to Jesus.
Grace Comes With Purpose
New Oxford American Dictionary defines grace (in Christian belief) as:
the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.New Oxford American Dictionary. ©2010, 2017 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Why does anyone think that grace stops at salvation? The Holy Spirit within us, alongside us, and upon us with power is the manifestation of grace. Spiritual gifts are an outpouring of grace, and the grace of God is meant to always point to Jesus Christ.
It’s time we stop living as merely forgiven people, and start living as agents of Living Hope, filled with grace. We need to use the gifts that God has given us to point people towards Jesus Christ. The more we point people to Him, the more we experience His grace (power). More people will be reached with The Gospel of Jesus as we use what He blessed us with (grace) to point them towards Him.