To continue the discussion on grace, i want to quote what I heard Jay Bakker say in a radio interview the other day.
"Grace means, 'love God and do what you want'". I'm sure that when many people heard that they gasped and as some of you probably did when you just read it. But I couldn't agree more.
Jay was paraphrasing St. Augustine of Hippo who said, "Love God, and do what you like." (maybe knowing good ole Augustine said it will help ease the tension a little, maybe)
I have to say I couldn't agree more... because this is my experience with grace.
I've grown up hearing about and even talking about grace... But it has always been a conditional understanding of grace (which defies the very definition of grace). You have to do ___________ ,ask, receive, accept, in order to "get" grace. This understanding makes grace conditional whether you want to admit it or not.
Now I know many christians are scared to talk "too much" about grace because they think it gives people a license to sin. And technically they are right... It doesn't matter what you do, God loves you the same. "Paul addresses this issue when he says, so should we keep on sinning so grace may abound", apparently people had the same concerns about the radical grace paul was preaching too).
It wasn't until this concept actually hit me that I really began to love Christ and wanted to (try to) follow him. It wasn't until I realized that I could do whatever I wanted and yet God loves me the same, that changed my life.
And that's what grace does... It changes you. So, as Jay pointed out, when you realize the grace you already have and muster up enough faith to actually believe it's true (not easy accepting your accepted) then you end up desiring to follow Jesus, which means loving God and loving others.
So i have to agree with St. Augustine and Mr Bakker... "love God and do what you want."