There are several places in the gospels where Jesus tells us to fear God. But in those same paragraphs, in that same context each time, Jesus reminds us that we are worth so much more to God than what we might think. We are worth more than the sparrows he tenderly protects. We’re worth more to him than all of nature for which he so faithfully provides. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus says, “Your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
We live in the grace of God, in the grace of his faithful promises. We live in his love. We’ve been given everything he has. What could possibly hold us back? How could I ever be content with just sitting on the bench? I can’t. Much is demanded of someone living in God’s grace.
“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~Titus 2:11-14
God’s grace teaches us how to live. And it’s not like everybody else. It’s different. Much more is demanded.
God’s grace does not call you to lay in front of the TV at night. The Spirit is not stirring you to take a big family vacation this summer. Christ’s love is not compelling you to spend this weekend cleaning out the garage (that’s your wife!). Now, none of those things are wrong. But please notice that we’re very quick to prioritize and rationalize our hobbies and our entertainment, but we’re very slow to embrace the high demands of life in the grace of God.
When you live in God’s matchless grace, you don’t just walk through practice and show up for the games. And you’re certainly not just sitting on the bench. God’s gifts compel you to do. God’s grace motivates you to act. To move. To give. to sacrifice. To be active and out there in the middle of it more and more and more each day, not less. You do not get into the Hebrew 11 Faith Ring of Honor by sitting on the couch. Or on your pew.
By faith Noah built an ark. By faith Abraham obeyed and went. By faith Abraham offered Isaac. By faith Moses left Egypt. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea. By faith Rahab welcomed the spies.
And don’t tell me, “Yeah, but I’m not Abraham” or “I’m not Moses.” Because you are. The heroes in the Bible are just like you. They’re exactly like you. A mess of noble intentions and horrible choices. Terribly inconsistent. A fluid cocktail of loyalty and rebellion. A patchwork quilt of ultimate highs and miserable lows. Those people in Hebrews 11 show us lots of good and lots of bad. Just like you. And me. But our God has always chosen to do his greatest work through people just like you and me.
James says Elijah was a man just like us. And he was! He was just as capable of whining and pouting as he was of boldly standing up to 450 murderous prophets of Ba’al. Same with Peter and Jacob, John and Joshua, Mary and Ruth.
When you’re gifted by God’s blessings and protected by God’s grace, it’s never about doing everything exactly right as much as it is about doing something. In God’s grace, you don’t hold back or sit out because you might mess something up or get something wrong. The key is not success. The key is faithfulness.