My regular readers will be familiar with my strong emphasis on Grace. Grace is the undeserved, unearned favour of God; not that we don’t deserve it because of stuff we’ve done, but undeserved because we have not earned it – and indeed we don’t need to earn it! It’s entirely because of God’s Love, generosity, favour and just because He likes us that He showers – lavishes! – His Presence, His Love and His favour on us.
And this leads to freedom. The freedom of knowing that there’s nothing we need to do – indeed nothing we can do – to ‘make’ God love us any more than He does already. He already accepts us and loves us completely.
In this article, Mike Douglas explains how the ‘Cycle of Grace’ is the exact opposits of the ‘Cycle of Law’, and how it takes a mental attitude shift in order to enact this in our lives. I have heard that sort of ‘changing of the mind’ as being called ‘Repentance’; this is indeed what it is.
Over to Mike:
I have talked a lot in this blog about the difference between being a legalistic Christian and being a follower of Jesus Christ. I want to expand on that again in this blog post. I keep ‘harping’ on this as it is essential to live the life you are called to and to flourish in the love of Father. This blog will explain the difference between living under the oppression of a legalistic, do and don’t or else kind of religion and the freedom that comes when we understand it is about love and acceptance.
Falling back into oppression of ‘trying to measure up’ to God’s standard is alive and well in in many Christians. Despite what the Bible says and the character of our Father. Many live life of busy-ness, keeping the rules, believing they must earn God’s acceptance thru their efforts to be good and through service to Him.
We would never say that, but their actions speak it out loud and clear.
Deep inside we believe Salvation is free but Acceptance is earned. Consequently, many churches and Christians promote frantic workaholism. It’s a neurotic attempt to gain acceptance through achievement. It leads to unhappy, discontented churches and members.
Let’s look more closely at what happens when we don’t understand that we don’t have to work for Father’s acceptance.
Cycle of Law
Despite what we know in our heads and say with our lips many of us still live this understanding that God’s acceptance is something we must earn. It could not be further from the truth.
The consequences are a false sense of self, burnout, striving, insecurity and defeat. I don’t want that for you.
Worse still, once deceived into this ‘slavery’ we will lose sense of being a part of Father’s family and a brother of Jesus. You will lose your identity and probably give up under an overwhelming sense of failure and inadequacy. This is NOT what Father wants from you.
Will go around the circle the wrong way. The wrong way [the cycle of law] begins with achievement. If I achieve enough through service and good behavior, then maybe that will give me significance. Think status, self-worth, pride, running ahead of others.
We hope that will give us significance and that will sustain us during times we really screw up. ‘Yes, I screwed up today but look at all I’ve done for the church, all the money I’ve given, how much better I still am than all the other people in my church.’
All in a forlorn hope this will lead to acceptance by God. Sadly, we never achieve what we long for; accepted by God, others or ourselves.
I want better for you. So does Father. Please, please, please reject this form of Christianity. It will destroy you.
Jesus came from Heaven to earth to set us free from this type of religious oppression. In one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, Jesus said that one of the reason He came was to fulfil all those religious requirements for us and then later told us the new way to acceptance by Father. Through faith in Him. And with that faith, you are now ‘part of the family’, fully accepted by God, just as you are.
If you need to, read that paragraph again. If you want to, read that paragraph again. If you want to jump for joy, read that paragraph again!
Why strive for something you already have?
Cycle of Grace
The cycle of Grace sets us free from the Cycle of Law. Note that in this circle the quadrants remain the same but the arrows are going in the opposite direction. To grasp this we, like the arrows, must reverse our path and understanding and head in the right direction.
Doing so will turn a discontented Christian [church] into a contented one. In turn, we will be profoundly attractive to discontented people.
Let’s look at the Cycle of Grace.
It starts with Acceptance! It is not something we work towards; it’s the starting point! We need to begin by understanding you are accepted by Father. Freely given thru Jesus and revealed by Holy Spirit.
It’s like this: If you are a parent, you know that your children do not have to earn your love and acceptance. You offer that simply because they are your children and you love then completely. It’s not conditional and it’s not earned. It is the same with your Father in Heaven! Loved and accepted because your family!
Now can freely approach Father with confidence because we are saved, and forgiven by faith and immediately adopted into the family.
That leads to Sustenance. As our understanding of our acceptance increases, it sustains us in life sorrows and the inevitable screw ups that will come. It releases us from striving, guilt and shame.
And it fills us with joy and peace. Joy in knowing we are love and accepted no matter what. And that will never change.
Acceptance and Sustenance now leads to Significance. Not from WHAT we are or WHO we are or WHAT we DO but from WHOSE we are. This conquers the need to strive. The search for significance ends because of our position as sons and daughters of God. What could be more significant?
Now we arrive at achievement. Because of accepted, sustained and significance from God, we are motivated to respond to that love, acceptance and significance.
Instead of striving to gain approval, we do good things because we know He approves of us and we want to respond to that love and approval. Not FOR approval but FROM approval.
We can see all this played out in the life of Jesus.
At His baptism, Father’s voice comes from Heaven saying, “This is My Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Acceptance – can you see it? “My son, whom I love”. He is saying the same to you.
This sustains Jesus throughout His ministry. Calls God “Abba”, which means ‘daddy’ in Hebrew. We can call Him daddy too!
Jesus’ significance or self-worth was centred in the value placed on Him by Father. Therefore, He is free to be Himself. So can we.
Now Achievement. He knows He has a job to do and at Calvary, cries out, “It is finished”. He could do all of that because knew He was accepted by Father.
We need to live in the same cycle.
Live knowing that Father accepts us. Not through achievement or trying to be holy, but by His adopting love. To do so, we must start out on [or back to] this right footing. We need to know are accepted by God because of His love. This must be the foundation of our lives.
Before all else, know in your heart you are loved by God. It must be the centre of who we are. Then we will be sustained in the right way.
Significance comes from POSITION not PERFORMANCE. WHOSE we are, not WHO we are, not WHAT we do. Here’s where we get our sense of value. Not approval of others but reveling in approval of Father. Then we respond and serve out of gratitude rather than for approval. We already have approval of Father.
My prayer is that you will embrace this wonderful truth.
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