Embrace grace. I'm trying to understand what it means to embrace the grace of God. I tend to focus more upon all my regrets, failures and mistakes. You might have one, two or more from your past. What follows regret usually is a painful reminder of mistakes. We all face mistakes and have to face the consequences. In my life I remember the time I reacted instead of responded to the "smack talk" of older middle school girls. They were riding their bikes as I was playing basketball on my driveway. They were ridiculing me and calling me names. I became angry. Angry enough to grab a few rocks and throw them as hard as I could! What I didn't realize is my youth pastor's SUV was in the way. I blew out the back side window in his vehicle. In my rage, I lost control. I regretted my anger each day I worked to pay for the window to be repaired. Minor regret, I get it. If you are like me you carry around painful moments from the past. In scripture, one of Jesus's disciples was the "king" of mistakes. His name was Peter.
To me, Peter is one of the most interesting people in the Bible. He was the epitome of a courageous follower of Christ who made a lot of mistakes. Peter was the man of "firsts" as a disciple. Cutting a guy’s ear off (John 18:10-11), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-23), believing in Christ and then denying him three times, first one to enter the empty tomb and first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection (Luke 24:34). Peter was faced with regret from his past. Jesus came looking for Peter once He was resurrected. You see, Peter allowed his regrets to control his future. Peter based his worth upon his performance. What he didn't realize is that Jesus wasn't through with him yet!
Jesus came to Peter and had a heart-to-heart conversation:
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Did you notice what Jesus asked Peter? "Do you love me?" Jesus is much more interested in our love for Him than how much we can do for Him. Living for Christ is not performance based but driven by our love for who He is. Peter was refined by the fact that Jesus embraced grace, not his mistakes. Peter's regret led him to return to his life as a fisherman. He had lost the vision for his life because of his past failures. Jesus had a life changing conversation that reinstated him to be a leader in the early church. Shortly after Jesus left, Peter preached and 3,000 people were saved! Peter realized this verse, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
Peter was killed by the horrible Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Peter insisted upon being crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die the same way Jesus died. Peter’s view of God changed because of his relationship with Jesus!
God is never through with us. If you are like me, you keep asking, "What If" or "If only" questions. We must embrace grace and understand that God is refining us. For me, I remember the times I spoke angrily to my brothers growing up. I remember the times I fail in measuring up and question why God would continue to use me. Embracing grace is understanding that it is not cheap. Grace was available at the cost of Jesus' blood on the cross. Understanding that Jesus does not need us, but wants us is the essence of embracing grace. Instead of embracing regret, I encourage you to see through the eyes of Peter and embrace grace. Just like Peter, we need to embrace His grace and never quit on Jesus' call on our lives.
Are your regrets fueling your life or the grace of Jesus?
I love how the skit guys capture the grace of Jesus.