Hello there, O faith mentor, how are things? I do try not to seriously bug the snot out of you with my myriad questions, so I pick the important ones when I feel moved. Hoping you might have magically answered this already.
And I am at the Stupid Question section of my faith journey, but here’s goes.
The subject: Grace
I wasn’t taught Grace. I was taught Undeserved Kindness, which I’m only assuming is in the same realm although likely not the same since I dislike undeserved kindness. It always sounded (and often felt) so Dickensian. May I have some more, please?
So is Grace a ‘thing’? Is it the Holy Spirit, or is it more like an energy, a divine force? And maybe most important, how do Christians see Grace show up in their lives? How do Christians know and experience Grace? So when life sucks and nothing makes sense, Christians can look within, find that Grace thing and have something tangible to hang onto.
Is it Grace that makes Christ real to them?
So lemme just run through this real quick. I’ll put my answers below in beautific blue.
Hello there, O faith mentor [Faith Mentor. I'm sooooo putting that on my business cards], how are things? [I don't know. Needing dusting?] I do try not to seriously bug the snot out of you [ew: bugs and snot. I wonder what's for breakfast?] with my myriad questions, so I pick the important ones when I feel moved. [Cool.] Hoping you might have magically answered this already. [I answer everything I do in a magically delicious way. Mmm, Lucky Charms. Breakfast. Hungry. Must mature.]
And I am at the Stupid Question section of my faith journey [sweet!], but here’s goes.
The subject: Grace [Wow. What a suddenly no-nonsense approach.]
I wasn’t taught Grace. [though I much dig the respect it shows you don't have to capitalize it unless we're talking about someone named Grace, which I can tell already would be totally funny but let's not start the day getting struck by lightening]. I was taught Undeserved Kindness, which I’m only assuming is in the same realm [sounds about right] although likely not the same since I dislike undeserved kindness. [Wait—what? Why don't you like undeserved kindness? That doesn't make sense. Who doesn't like undeserved kindness? Bit o' a red flag.] It always sounded (and often felt) so Dickensian. [So I'm saying your teacher on this sucked.] May I have some more, please? [But little Oliver Twist did deserve some more. That's the whole point of that scene: it was unjust for the boy to be hungry.]
So is Grace a ‘thing’? [Yes. Grace is a thing. It's a deeply hardcore-Christian-theology thing, but it's definitely a thing.] Is it the Holy Spirit [no. kind of. yes. sort of. generally yes.], or is it more like an energy [sort of: yes], a divine force? [definitely yes.]
[So the idea behind grace is ... well, here's the very well said opening of the Wiki entry on Grace (Christianity): In Christian theology, grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man— "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved"—that takes the form of divine favor, love and clemency. So that's a top-notch wrap-up.]
And maybe most important, how do Christians see Grace show up in their lives? [Well, of course, it depends on the Christian. The idea is that it makes you feel good about your life and your future—and thereby moves you to want to selflessly help and love others. You have been saved from things like worry, resentment, and being relentlessly critical of yourself—you're actually happy—so you in turn want to help others be also uplifted in whatever way might work best for them.] How do Christians know and experience Grace?
[Well, that's a big part of the tricky part. They "know" it because God has extended that knowledge to them. What makes it tricky, though, is that (in one way or another—which introduces a whole other layer of tricky), you have to ask for grace. If you don't explicitly ask for God's salvation—if you don't seriously, balls-out humble yourself that way—then you're on your own: then, out of respect for your sacrosanct will, God will in that sense keep his distance from you, because who goes to a party to which they haven't been invited? So that puts any of us in a really tricky position, because nobody likes the idea that they have to ask for anything at all—much less for what feels like (but isn't: layers!) their own self-worth. It's that asking to which you referred when you compared the bestowal of grace to Twist requesting more food; that's what you meant when you said that you dislike undeserved kindness. You meant that you don't like the idea that you have to ask for God's grace. Because ... because we all have that pride, that conviction that we can do it all ourselves. And we can! Almost. And it's in that almost that the compelling dynamic of Christianity lies.]
Is it Grace that makes Christ real to them? [Yes, because Christ is the means by which God made as clear as possible the truth that we don't have to sweat life the way we do, that everything—everything—is going to be all right.]