The Grip of Grace is written by Max Lucado. And if you’re looking for an author and a style of writing that really puts you in the middle of the page, it’s Lucado! His writing is personal and has a way of letting you experience what he’s seeing. This particular work by Lucado is equally powerful! Lucado takes time in his work to contrast the ideal of grace with the things we try to measure up to grace.
There are three basic elements in our lives in which we place our trust. And these three things go back all the way to Old Testament history. We look at our family, our traditions, and our good deeds. In the Old Testament, the Israelites thought that if they were born of a certain lineage, underwent the rite of circumcision and offered sacrifices they would please God. But little attention was given to the work of grace that is all in God’s hands. It’s his character that makes him gracious toward us. It’s not something we can earn or achieve. Let’s look at each of these three areas of our lives a little more closely.
Family is important to be sure! Our family of origin is a critical part of who we become in life. But some people take it a little too far when it comes to salvation. The Israelites thought that if they were born into the line of Abraham, then they would be saved. That’s part of the promise in the Old Testament for sure! But it’s a short sighted view of it to say the least. To approach the promise of grace with this mentality is the same as saying that since my dad is a carpenter, then I am automatically a carpenter because he’s good at it. We all know that this isn’t how the game works. To be a carpenter doesn’t happen because you have a family member who is a carpenter. To be a carpenter you have to work in the trade. Learn from someone who’s better than you. Follow directions and continue to grow in the craft.
The same is true for us in our faith walks. We aren’t Christians just because our parents are Christians. We’re not Jesus followers just because someone in our homes is a follower of Jesus. In order to follow Jesus we have to, well follow Jesus! Maybe being saved isn’t really up to my parents as much as it is up to Jesus!
There’s nothing wrong with traditions at all! Actually traditions often keep us grounded and show us a good starting point. But we have to keep in mind that traditions don’t save us any more than having a dad who’s a carpenter makes us a carpenter! There was a belief in the Old Testament that the mark of circumcision was an act of being saved. In other words, if you wanted salvation you had to be circumcised. Lucado draws the analogy between circumcision and a tattoo or even wearing a shirt with a cross on it. Does having a Jesus tattoo or cross necklace make us disciples of Christ? Does an ink splatter on our shoulder assure us of our salvation? Perhaps salvation is about more than a tradition after all!
Finally, we rely on our good deeds and think somehow these will save us from the perils of life. But again this is a fallacy. No matter how good we are, we’ll always wonder am I good enough? In the Old Testament the good deeds on which they would rely were their sacrifices. Today, thank goodness, we don’t need to offer sacrifices but we still rely on good deeds. We think our attendance in worship is a sacrifice of our sleep that earns God’s goodness. We think our offerings are sacrifices that should let God see us better. Butall of these fall short of worthy.
That’s why it’s so important to realize that we’re already in the grip of grace! It’s grace that saves us. It’s God’s amazing grace that has purchased and won us. Now our family, our traditions and our good deeds can all be an outflow of the grace of God that has so tightly gripped our souls!
So all in all this is a great book! I highly recommend getting sucked into this wonderful illustration of God’s grace for you and for me! I hope you enjoy being held in the Grip of Grace.