For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9
Grace is Paul’s word. He uses it about a hundred times in the New Testament documents that have come down to us. He uses it to try to capture in a single word what Jesus has done for us: bringing us the sheer gift of salvation. This is what I think he’s driving at. From the first pages of the Scriptures to the end, the chronic spiritual disease of the planet is pride — various forms of our putting ME in God’s place. In no place is this more dangerous than in the religious world, when we displace God with all kinds of fancy liturgical talk and cozy thoughts. Like Dr. King’s shocking statement that Sunday morning at 11 o’clock was the most segregated hour in the American week — we want to serve people like us. If grace is really a gift — and it really is — then there is absolutely no way I can be legitimately prideful about it. I didn’t earn God’s grace, or build it, or learn it, or win it, or deserve it. So I should first be exuberantly and permanent thankful for it and then be thinking constantly what we could possibly give back to God as a thank you gift.
Lord, why me? Amen.