Yesterday, I was teaching concepts to the ladies in recovery that revolved around the idea that grace demonstrates God's interest in us and that it comes FIRST, before we exercise even a drop of faith. (Otherwise, to what would we be exercising this faith?)
It's by God's grace that we are saved, and not by our own efforts, lest anyone should boast! (Tammy summation of Ephesians 2:8)
There was one lady in the first class who has the face of an angel (in fact, many of them do). She is very young ... probably in her early 20s. And she told me recently that she has been diagnosed with cervical cancer -- for the 2nd time.
She looked very detached at the beginning of class, almost sad; but as we progressed, I saw her countenance change. She had several "ah-hah" moments. I love it when God allows me to see this! It is such a miracle and a validation that he is using me to make a difference.
One of the scriptures was from Numbers -- where the Israelites are grumbling against God and Moses as they wander in the wilderness. The scripture says God sent poisonous snakes among them. When they cry out to Moses to ask God to remove the snakes, confessing their sin, God instructs Moses to make a bronze snake and mount it on a pole. Then if someone is bit by a snake, they are to look at bronze snake and God will heal them.
I asked the question: "Obviously, there is symbolism here between what the Israelites did and God's requirement to look at the bronze snake. What do you think it means?"
She spoke up ... "Maybe God won't take away the snakes in our lives; we'll still have to deal with getting "bit" by them. But he will bring us healing."
Ah yes, very nice, and knowing her own situation, I could see God applying a soothing balm.
But even better was a statement she made a few minutes later; or rather a question she posed. We were talking about sin and that to God, sin is sin; there is no hierarchy of sin where one action is "more" bad than another. It's all sin. We have all sinned.
22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. -- Romans 3:22-24
She asked, "So then we're all the same?" Ding, ding, ding. Yes, we are all on equal footing. The relief in the room was amazing. When you are talking to a room full of people who believe you would shudder to know their deepest, darkest secrets; people who by the very fact that they are in rehab confirms society's view of them that they are lost; they need to hear that we are all the same in God's eyes. He loves us all, regardless of who we are or who we've been.
I have to constantly remind myself that some concepts related to a life of faith that I have spent years learning about and processing and understanding are not necessarily clear in the minds of others. Even things that I assumed were basic ... grace ... are complex and confusing. So I strive to at least make one thing clear -- God knows everything about you and loves you beyond anything you can imagine. Yes, you are a sinner, but that's not what he sees. He sees his precious child. Through his forgiveness, you are set free to become the person he is transforming you to be.
It's immediate and lifelong; and it's mind-blowing.
We are all on equal footing. And I'm glad.