Boundary and Grace

Lisa and I were exploring the less-traveled side of a nearby mountain town - a beautiful bedroom community that, like much of Colorado's front range, is turning all-too-quickly into a bustling city.  In the middle of the mountains, museums and monuments that make the town special - we found this street sign.

And so we sat there and pondered what significance might be found at the corner of Boundary and Grace.

As I stare at this lonely sign ignored by the locals and only useful to the rare tourist without a GPS, I'm powerfully reminded of the way Yahweh has, is and always shall relate to you and I.

Boundaries.

Now there's a word that inspires!  For me, "boundaries" always meant lines and limitations and longings to linger where I was forbidden to do so.  But boundaries are so much a part of how God relates to us, and how he expects us to relate with others.

God relates to humanity through covenants.  Covenants are much like contracts, where God says "You do this, and I'll do that."  Covenants contain promises that God makes to us (great promises, in fact!) and rules that create boundaries for our thoughts and actions.

Rules - another way of saying boundaries - are an integral part of God's way of dealing with us.  And so, boundaries are really quite good for us in life and in relationship with God,

Think of the Adamic Covenant - the agreement that God made with Adam in Genesis.  In street terms, God basically said "Adam, you and your kin can eat from any tree in this garden.  And that's no small thing sir, because the produce from one of these trees in particular will keep you alive forever!".

That was the great promise of the Adamic Covenant.  Eat from that tree and have Eternal Life?  I'm sure that sounded really good to Adam, as it would have to me.

But the Adamic Covenant also contained one very important rule, or boundary, that ended up making all the difference in the world.  "Eat from any tree," said God, "except that one...".

And you know the rest of the story.  Adam and his wife stepped over the boundary.  Sin and it's ugly brother Death came into God's beautiful world and we've never been the same since.

Every other covenant God has made with human beings follows the same structure - promises and boundaries, boundaries and promises.  It's just the way it is with our God.

But boundaries aren't the only thing we see in the scriptures.  We see, almost like we're looking into the sun, the powerful Grace that God has always given to his children, and nowhere is this Grace more evident than in the person and work of Jesus, and in his New Covenant.

Grace.

I've heard it defined as "unmerited favor".  And grace is well-understood in that way.  But here, I'd like to call out Grace as "the ability to do something hard, and make it look easy".

Take, for example, a world-class figure skater, or sculptor or violinist.  These individuals have all mastered some complicated and difficult skills.  And when they're at the top of their game, they make it look easy.

When I watch a graceful ballet dancer, or downhill skier or high-level rock climber - a master in the middle of practicing their art, I'd swear that "I could do that!".  But the brutal truth is - I don't have their capabilities.  At least not yet.

And so it is with Grace.

God bestows Grace upon you and I in the person of his Spirit who lives in us.  In Ezekiel 36:27, God promised that in the New Covenant he would put his "Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.".  By his Spirit, God gives us the Grace to do what seems hard, and even make it look easy.  

So if you're a follower of Jesus, the next time you Stop at the corner of Boundary and Grace - ask the Spirit of God who lives in you to give you the power to be and to do all that he wants you to be and to do.
"Father, thank you for putting in us the deposit of your Spirit - a down payment on the glorious future you're bringing in your Kingdom.  Help us follow your leading, give us the courage to listen and the strength to be pleasing to you.  In Jesus' name - amen!"

No comments: