Five thoughts on Grace – #1, Grace Itself
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved
The Graciousness of God
toward all humankind!
Never not enough,
rarely just enough,
always more than enough: Grace.
The word gets tossed around like a
basketball at a pick-up game
back an forth and back and…
Without it ever being
shot into the hoop.
We seem to love the word,
not understand the concept,
want what it offers,
but we just can’t make the shot,
score the points,
shoot the hoop.
and still thereafter: Grace!
We hope for Grace.
We dream of Grace.
We scheme of ways to get Grace.
We think there is not enough grace.
Yet, we already know this
deep in our bones,
we are deeply imbedded in Grace,
living it even as we breathe and move.
What is it about Grace that we know, and what is it that we don’t know? I suspect we think we don’t know a lot more than we do. Theologians have chalked up a lot of points in its favor in attempting to define grace, but I wonder if they actually have done much in terms of understanding it.
I HOPE YOU HAVE BROUGHT ALONG YOUR WADERS FOR THE PARAGRAPH THAT FOLLOWS!
Here are some of their tedious notions about Grace: First, browsing around int he Westminster Dictionary of Theology (s.v.), according to theology, there seems to be an abundance of sub-categories for the concept of Grace: “Elevating Grace,” is the Grace when we participate in the nature of God; “Healing Grace,” is when our participating in Grace heals the effects of sin; “Prevenient Grace,” is when the Grace of God anticipates any human movement towards God; “Efficacious Grace,” is the Grace humanity responds to; and “Sufficient Grace,” is the Grace offered to humanity which humanity in return turns away from. There is also “Uncreated Grace,” which is God, God’s Self; there is also “Created Grace,” which is the Grace humans accept from God; “Sanctifying Grace,” which is a permanent aspect of a human’s new life in the Spirit; and “Actual Grace,” is the effective nature of Sanctifying Grace that humans understand as strength given to us by God.
There are some theologians who understand that Grace itself is something offered humans that is unique from the act of creation. Grace, for them, is seen as a conversion of natural life into a divine nature. Humans seem to have a leaning towards the Grace from which they have been created that makes them compatible with it, so it is not actually a foreign substance to human nature, but it appears to be distinct enough from human nature, that, while readily available to humans, not necessarily something they already possess.
What an exercise of futility theologians have gone through to try to grasp something that cannot be grasped! We do love to use words! Yikes!
I am not sure that all the sub-categories in that paragraph up there are important. The photograph included with this posting is how I think of Grace–God’s Grace in our lives is like the sun on ice!
OK, you should understand that I don’t believe in the extreme dualism (the split between matter and spirit, between nature and divinity, between sacred and profane, between us and them) implied by that taxonomy of different kinds of Grace. I just do not. I do not see an actual split between God and human. I understand that we are not God, but I also believe that humans are not the evil, sin-ridden, vile creatures certain aspects of our faith has tried to make us believe we are–we just are not worm-ridden.
Grace, as I understand it, is the action of God, that is more than us and beyond us, to convince us we are loved, that we are so much better than we think we are, that we are divine creatures, if we would but let go of the lies we have been offered as Truth, and simply relax in the love God has for us.
I think that without Grace we couldn’t breathe. We couldn’t be. Grace is the stuff of Spirit. Grace is the stuff of God. Grace is the stuff out of which we are created. Grace is the glue for all that is. Grace just simply is. And we are held safe in it, forever! Grace just is!