Taking Grace for Granted
The Rev. Alex Stevenson
We take a lot of things for granted. Sometimes we take our families for granted. Wives, do you ever feel like your husbands take you for granted? Husbands do you ever feel like our wives take you for granted? Sometimes children take for granted the support and protection of their parents until they are out on their own. Sometimes parents take their children for granted until they are out of the house.
Some things we just live with day in and day out. And after a while we just assume that they will always be there. We take them for granted. We stop seeing the beauty in them and miss the joy of them. Isn’t that why people who have a near death experience often come out of it with a new appreciation for life? They had taken things for granted and when they came close to losing it all then began to see the beauty in life again.
Sometimes we Christians do that with our faith. This is especially true of people who were raised in the church. We have grown so accustomed to our faith we fail to appreciate its beauty. We simply take it for granted.
In the letter to the Romans Paul reminds the Christians in Rome about the basics of the Christian faith. These people were already Christians. Some of them had been Jews who grew up in homes of faith practicing the laws of Moses. Others had lived their whole lives worshipping the Greek and Roman gods. But they all knew the truth, yet Paul reminded them of it. So today, I want to remind us of a few things that we may be taking for granted.
One of the things we take for granted is our access to God. Paul wrote, “But the righteousness based on faith says, do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”(Romans 10:6-7) Paul was trained as a Pharisee. And as a Pharisee he thought that righteousness before God was achieved by keeping all the commandments. And that was a full time job.
But Christianity teaches something completely different. Instead of us having to achieve righteousness, our faith is that it is given to us as a gift of grace. We do not have to climb to heaven to reach God. He came to us.
Most Christians take that for granted. They know that they can turn to God at any time. You don’t have to go to a far away temple or make a sacrifice or go through an elaborate ritual to reach God. You can simply say a prayer. Because God came to us in Christ we have access to God. Most Christians take to for granted, to the point that they don’t even bother to pray until they are in trouble.
We also take for granted the gift of salvation. Paul wrote, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Salvation is so simple! God doesn’t require that we pass any theology tests or perform any great tasks. All God asks of us is that confess and believe in Jesus.
We Christians take that simplicity for granted. We try to make is harder than it is. Sometimes we add rituals and try to make them requirements. Rituals like baptism and confirmation are wonderful ways to celebrate and express the new life we have in Christ. But they are not requirements.
Just consider the possibilities. God gave his only son to die for us. God could ask any price to receive the salvation Jesus paid for on the cross. But he gave it to us as a gift! Grace is truly amazing but we take it for granted!
We also take for granted the Joy of our faith. God came to us! And through faith in Christ we can know God. That is a joyful thing. Problem is that most Christians forget that Joy!
We Christians have something to shout about! “Every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” That means you and me. We should be excited about that!
Well, ya’ll don’t look real exited. If you believe in Jesus say “A-men.” If you have experienced the Amazing grace of God shout “Halleluiah.” If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he rose from the dead yell “Praise the Lord!” Now that’s more like it.
But what about those who don’t know these things? We take them for granted. But there are some people in this world who don’t know about it. They don’t know that God came to them and they think that they have to climb up to God. They think they have to raise themselves out of the pits of life. They don’t know that all they have to do is confess and believe in Jesus, so they have never done it.
And we think “well everybody knows that!” We take that knowledge for granted. How can they know if no one has told them? We have been told and believed. How can they believe in Jesus if they are not told about Jesus?
But that is not all. How can they be told if no one goes to them to tell them? Don’t take for granted that someone else will tell them. Every single one of us has that responsibility. Don’t take the Joy of salvation for granted. Share it with a world that has never heard of these things that you know by faith!
Copyright 2008 Alex Stevenson. Used by permission.