“So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothing.”
Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is so crucially central to our faith and we must not be quick to forget why. We live in a merit based society, meaning we achieve our goals when we work hard and put a lot of time into what we’re doing. This is not a bad thing, in fact it is a really good thing! It has lead to the flourishing of our country, it produces character and promotes personal growth. However, when we take this ideal and use it as a lens to understand God’s grace it can hinder our relationship with Christ.
Before Napoleon Bonaparte introduced hiring staff based on merit in the eighteen-hundreds, kingdoms were ruled by family. Your dad was the king? Then your brother was the commanding officer of the army and you were next in line to govern the kingdom. This highly family oriented framework helps us to understand some things in the Bible we may have missed at first glance.
“The Kingdom of God” or “The Kingdom of Heaven” are phrases we definitely have heard if we have been around church for any period of time and they appear frequently in the gospels. When we hear kingdom and don’t connect it to family we start to miss out on some incredible meaning hiding behind the text. Let’s rewind to 2 Samuel 9, the account of Mephibosheth.
This was a man was a servant with two lame feet, he even refers to himself as a dead dog! Despite King David’s complicated relationship with Saul, he still wanted to honor him and show his family God’s kindness. So he asks around to find if there are any descendants of King Saul. Eventually Mephibosheth shows up who is one of King Saul’s grandsons. From then on Mephibosheth always eats at the king’s table; not because of anything that he did but because of who he was associated with, who’s family he was a part of.
This account of Mephibosheth is a type and shadow of the work that Christ would come to do through his death, burial and resurrection. What Christ has done has allowed anyone to receive the free gift of grace and become a part God’s family. Romans 11:17 puts it this way, “You, who were once nothing more than a wild olive branch, God has grafted in - inserting you among the remaining branches as a joint partner to share in the wonderful richness of the cultivated olive stem.” Romans 8 talks about how we are coheirs with Christ - we are going to inherit everything Christ will, right along side of him!
Here is the big point: this is our reality (being grafted into God’s family), not because of anything we did, not because we followed the law to a tee and earned our righteousness, but because - by faith and through a working of the Holy Spirit - we have accepted the free gift of God’s grace that is ever extended towards us. God shouted to the ends of the earth, “Who is our there that is part of my family that has not come to sit at my table?” and we heard the call.
So remember, this faith journey is not about following the law in order to earn your righteousness. It is about finding relationship with Christ - who is the fulfillment of the law. It’s about being a part of God’s family. Once you start to focus on being in the family of Christ, you will naturally begin to follow the law… but not because you are trying to earn your righteousness, instead because you are so in love with Christ it is only what is natural to do.