“Celebrate the process.”
“Enjoy the journey.”
“It’s not about getting it perfect. It’s about being present, where you are, as you are.”
“It’s ok to fail. Guilt doesn’t come from God.”
It seems that, recently, the favorite tune for many bloggers/instagrammers/internetters to sing is this: Embrace the Mess.
And I love this message.
It warms my heart to know that it is not all about being perfect, getting it just right. I love the idea that the people in our lives are more important than a perfectly-checked to-do list at the end of the day.
It is so encouraging, and important, for a type-A perfectionist like me to hear this message of Grace over and over again – God loves you because you are human, not in spite of it.
I love this message, and I also preach it (more to myself than anyone else).
But here’s where the conversation gets a little dicey: I don’t think we have done well in representing the message of Grace in its entirety.
Yes, we are human and we make mistakes. Yes, God loves us & accepts us just the way we are. He knew every sin we would ever commit and chose to send Jesus to die for us anyway. Yes, we need His mercy that flows so freely.
But Grace doesn’t just leave us there. It doesn’t leave us just as we are, because Love always seeks the best for the one it loves. Grace is so much more than a warm, adoring, doting father who blindly excuses his child of any/every wrong. That isn’t Grace, it’s mollycoddling. And mollycoddled children grow into over-indulged, self-centred, character-deficient adults. Grace that would leave us in such an awful state can’t really be Grace, can it?
So can we start a conversation, talk a little bit about what Grace really is?
I believe that Grace looks like this:
- God so loved the world that He sent Jesus. To be a model for all mankind of what it looks like to be fully human. Fully man. Grace broke into our mundane, mediocre lives and showed us that there could be so much more. He was the second Adam, and He showed us how God intended for man to live. He showed us what we could be and gave us a dream to live for.
- Jesus died for us so that the power of death and sin over us would be forever broken. Grace didn’t just show us what we could be, but made a way for us to get there.
- Holy Spirit came to be with man with His power. The obstacles were removed, and His power came, so that man was empowered to once more be fully man… as God intended in the Garden of Eden.
Grace tells us that we are loved unconditionally, accepted us as we are, mistakes and all.
Grace shows us the greatness of who we could be, that we are not defined by our sins or weaknesses because God created each one of us for greatness.
Grace empowers us to be able to reach the fullness of all that God has for us.
Grace is God’s bestowed ability to do what His truth demands. It is God’s divine empowerment in our lives. Grace enables us to be better… it empowers us to be the best version of who God created us to be.
We have gotten really good at the celebration of the process. We embrace our mess, having learned to love ourselves for who we are. The message of self-acceptance and self-love all across the world is as ubiquitous as water – because the world both needs it and wants it.
But may I submit to you that without the true message of Grace – the empowerment to positive change/growth – self-acceptance isn’t really self-acceptance at all. It just becomes a glorified, euphemistic cover up for self-centeredness that is lazy and spurns responsibility and consequences.
When we paint only half a picture and tell our followers that that is the full truth, we shrink God to the size of our self-made boxes and we reduce their expectations for what God can do… and that’s dangerous.
So here’s to celebration of the process. Celebration of our humanity. And most of all, celebration that God’s grace – His power – has made it possible for us to be truly human… the kind of human that Adam was meant to be, and the kind of human that Jesus showed the world we could be.