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Friday, February 24, 2012

.Taking Back Grace.

Part Two: (Part one is here)

Growing up I watched grace being touted. I listened to the words salvation is by grace through faith. It's not from works! But then a strange thing would happen, once the sinner was saved, it seemed as if grace was erased and legalism took its place. I have written so much about one of my biggest weaknesses - fear. As an adult, and with hindsight, I can look back and confidently say that legalism breeded this fear in me. I am fully responsible for letting that fear penetrate my heart, but legalism introduced the fear to me.

Because legalism erased grace, I was afraid of letting people see and know the real me. Like most people in our kind of church, I became really good at the outward appearance thing - I wore a mask. I said the things I was supposed to say. I did what I was supposed to do. I threw on a mask of self-righteousness, and tightened it with fear and insecurity. I was good enough on my own, with this mask on to make me appear to be better than I was. Because when I looked to my left and to my right everyone else was wearing the same mask. I had to keep mine on, or I would never measure up. We were all plastic, or most of us were anyway. Most of us were pretty adept at pretending to have it all together, when really so many of us were falling apart. Because everyone is cloaked in these masks, we would look around and think in our hearts Wow, I am the only imperfect one here. I am the only one continually messing up. And we gripped the mask over our imperfectness even tighter in an effort to keep up the masquerade.


It wasn't until just a few years ago that God slowly began peeling off my mask. I had a lot of layers to peel, from a lot of years of legalism and pretending to have everything together. Each layer He has removed has revealed a new truth to me and brought grace crashing over me. God had seen through the mask all along -He could see through every messy, dirty layer, and yet He continued to love me perfectly, unconditionally, and completely. When it really sunk in that there is nowhere I can run from His Spirit, and that I could never escape His love or His grace, I started wearing less and less layers of that mask to church and in front of my brothers and sisters. Because I began to realize that measuring stick I was using of comparing side to side was all a mirage. I was comparing my mask to his mask to her mask. It was all fake. No one is perfect.

We all need grace, not just for salvation, but for life.

I feel passionate that now is the time to take back grace and erase the legalism that has permeated the church for so long. The only way that this can be accomplished is through Jesus helping us to peel away our masks, to be real, vulnerable, transparent, and yes, broken and imperfect before others. It is not an easy thing to do, especially if the mask has been worn for a long time. It's not easy to be vulnerable and exposed before others, when one has pretended to be something for so, so long. When we truly lean on God's strength and stop erasing His grace in our life, the mask doesn't fit well anymore - it stops making sense. And the truth is, as much as we think we are keeping up the charade, we always trip up and the mask always slips once in awhile. The charade is too much to keep up.

Today I am choosing to walk in grace, to erase the legalism, and to loosen the mask - the layers of fear and insecurity, because God has seen the real me all along. I am not perfect. My life is messy. I am broken in so many ways. I need Jesus, and I cannot live my life dependent on self and a check lists of rules. That leaves me empty. That leaves me fake. He loves me, and He has accepted me.

Will you loosen your mask today? I promise to cover you in grace, because He, who knows the real you - the you without a mask, has covered you in grace.

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139: 1-4, 13


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