Grace in 3-D
Read Romans 5:17–20
Ever stare at one of those computerized 3–D posters that were all the rage a few years ago? They look like randomly colored pixels without any discernible pattern until you relax your eyes. Then a three–dimensional image snaps into focus! The one I stared at in the mall had a cool picture of a flying eagle, but it took a while for me to get the hang of seeing it — and I’m sure I looked completely goofy as I swayed back and forth in front of the store window, cross-eyed, trying hard to make some sense of what was right in front of me (very much like I appear every morning before my first cup of coffee). But I discovered that what seems disorganized and random eventually becomes amazing and majestic (I mean the poster, not me).
That’s what happens to the Bible when you relax and focus on grace. You start to see the whole book as one giant 3-D picture.
First God lavished His grace on us with a perfect world in Genesis 1. It’s all good. Then we humans spoiled it when we sinned. But God was gracious and promised a future redeemer, setting the plot into motion! Then we humans kept messing up — even though we were given God’s perfect law, thereby proving we can’t save ourselves, even with an owner’s manual.
Yet God was merciful and forgave the repentant, even coming to earth as the incarnate Son of God. Jesus could have spoken out against many evils in society, but His primary target was religious legalism, which clouds and perverts the message of God’s grace.
Then humans killed the Son of God. But God is stunningly gracious and in an amazing plot twist, turns even that tragedy into triumph: The death of Christ turns out to be the very way God had planned to pay the debt for all of our sins Himself. And the cross switches from a symbol of punishment and death to a symbol of grace and life. In fact the crucifixion and resurrection are a microcosm of the whole story: There is no tragedy, no sin, beyond redemption by God. Sin is trumped by grace again and again, in every life!
Then at the very end of the story, there’s a vision of the new heaven and new earth. Once again, God lavishes His grace on us with new life in a perfect sinless world. The circle is complete. And there’s one final invitation to receive grace:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!…Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17
See the 3-D picture yet? Maybe this will help your focus: I love The Message’s paraphrase of Romans 5:18, 20:
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it… Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life — a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
The Bible, in other words, paints a cohesive picture with each small story — and as your eyes see it coming into focus you’ll see God turning to you even as you stand looking at the picture, and inviting you to be part of His masterpiece, the picture He is painting for the whole universe to see, the portrait of His grace!
Have you taken the free gift of the water of life by receiving Christ?
How does it make you feel to see the story of grace traced throughout the Bible?
Thank God for His story of grace — one that He began writing thousands of years ago, and continues writing on your heart and life today! Pray about how you can play your part and keep telling the story to others!