I have a confession: I’m uncomfortable with grace.
You don’t have to do anything to deserve God’s love … nothing you do can make God love you more or less … stop striving and rest in the grace and love of God.
I resonate with these statements, but they also make me nervous. Especially in our hyper-individualistic culture. For me, talk of grace has always been tied to my relationship with God – the grace of getting to heaven, grace that a personal savior would love me and be in relationship with me. It gives me the feeling that all is well – as long as me and Jesus are okay.
It all seems a little privileged. Sure, rest in the grace of God, you, middle-class American Christian. Stop striving, you, whose only problem is being a workaholic. Meanwhile war and poverty rage, injustice flourishes, and the environment continues to fall apart. I feel deeply that if the gospel is really good news, then these things matter; the way of Jesus has something to say – and do – about mass incarceration, human trafficking and our culture’s sins of militarism, consumerism and racism. I worry that saying ‘stop striving and rest in the grace of God’ lets us off the hook, allowing us to ignore our social and structural sins – as long as I’m good with Jesus. That’s not good enough for our sisters working the line or our brothers in prison.
But, to be honest, I’m also tired.
I’m tired of these feelings of inadequacy, of the rat race, the machine of output and the striving for influence, of wanting others to notice and affirm, of the guilt of not measuring up – to whose standards I don’t even know. I’m tired of the self-criticism, the comparing, the need to accomplish, to be unique, to be relevant, to be spectacular, to be someone notable, to make this blog post the best thing you read today. These things wear me down, crushing like a weight, making my breath at times slow and heavy and other times fast and anxious, to the point that I just need a little…
Grace. And rest. And freedom. And love.
So I don’t know what to do – how to bear this yoke that is apparently easy, yet demands everything, how to embrace this grace and still proclaim that the world goes not well, that the way of Jesus takes us to the heart of the world’s violence and injustice – to do something about it, to take up our cross for the sake of others.
I hold these both – an easy yoke and a burdensome cross – and I’m grappling with them. I hope you weren’t expecting answers. This was, after all, just a confession.