Sometimes when a thing - a concept, a principle, a foundational tenet to a transformational faith in Christ - get's very complex (like Grace for instance) - a different way to think about it altogether can be helpful. I'd like to offer a very different way to think about Grace - not to the exclusion to all those things we all already know about Grace - but as a view of the very same things - just from a different hill-top.
What if God has two ways to say "I love you". What if He can tell us "I love you" - like He does when He says in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son ..." - and what if He can also say "Grace" - as in "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." as He does in 2 Corinthians 12:9. What is - because God - you know - being infinite, indescribable, and incredible - needs multiple words to express just how profound His love for us is - and what if we could - on occasion see Grace as God's ... oh, I don't know ... "As you wish."
Grace isn't for wretches at all. But it is totally for wretches. It's also most poignantly for all those who think that they don't need quite as much as some others.
And have you ever noticed that there's a profound connection between Grace and humility? Because only in admitting that perfection eludes us utterly can we walk in Grace. To need Grace is to get Grace.
Grace isn't for wretches - but rather for easily-yoked, lightly-burdened types, coming to the end of every yesterday - sacrificially laying all of yesterday - however good and however not so good - down on the altar as a gift - maybe not the gift Jesus deserves - but the gift we have to give - and offering it to Him. And it's Grace that takes that offering - whether our best day or our worst - and sanctifies and purifies it. Grace is also that thing that as we go through today - is God's voice whispering into our ears over and over "As you wish" - not as an indulgent license to behave deplorably - but because God had already seen humanity toiling over millennia to obsess about sin "enough" to not sin - and paid the remainder Himself for the sake of community with us. This releasing of yesterday and putting on Grace for today works wonders on our souls.
Want to really have a good time? Pick a handful of your favorite passages that talk about love - and swap the word love out and replace it with Grace. So - for instance, 1 Corinthians 13: 1-4 becomes ...
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have Grace, I have become a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have Grace, it profits me nothing. And if I give all my possessions to the poor and surrender my body to be burned, but do not have Grace it profits me nothing. Grace is patient, Grace is kind, and is not jealous; Grace does not brag and is not arrogant."
Grace is not synonymous with love - but it's not antithetical either. Not at all. In fact - Grace is impossible with love - and if it weren't for Grace - we could only wish for God's love - not saved to walk in it. Still - reading passages on love with the word love replaced with Grace somehow completes and sheds a little light on just what Grace means.