Sticky Notes: Grace Is Sufficient

LOGICAL CONSISTENCY AND GRACE

Logical consistency would say that grace, by itself, does not make sense. We hardly have the capacity to fathom how to bring good reasoning to understand such a transcendent concept. The Bible states grace is “sufficient,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) yet, when we remove it from the context of spiritual parlance, we consider grace to be beyond human understanding (i.e., Beyond our ability to grasp how grace fits into “daily life” without the interjection of spiritual conversation). One could conclude that, according to logical consistency, grace makes sense of faith because it is beyond human understanding (i.e., Grace and faith are both beyond human understanding, yet they are both empirical, verifiable experiences by those who have been called by the Holy Spirit). Concordantly and simultaneously, grace is, in its transcendence, sufficient in that it brings us to Jesus in humility and surrender.

 CHRISTIANITY, FROM THE HEART

One of the more explicit signs of an authentic Christian transformation is expressed in the way a believer starts living (passionately ((i.e., with interest and purpose)) in the name of Jesus) and stops “moving stagnantly” (phlegmatically) through life; insofar as leaving behind the listless repetition and soulless boredom of faithless monotony; or less intensely, leaving behind the complacent life of “good enough.”

One of the most important lessons I learned during my stint of more intense spiritual questioning was how Christianity is not just some “hat” I wear, the countenance on my face, the church I attend, or the people I know; Christianity is either in my heart, from the heart, or it’s nothing and nowhere to be found. My faith, whether or not it makes logical sense (outside the argument by grace), only becomes a complete picture if it takes place in my heart first. 

Does that mean that faith wasn’t in my heart before my struggle? No, let me explain. What I am conveying is that for the past 8 years, I was trying to be Christian, instead of receiving my faith organically (through the spirit) and being reshaped (through complete surrender) from the inside out. I was still lost in the mode of earning my place in the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than receiving the invitation through Christ’s humility, compassion, surrender, boldness, and sacrifice on the cross.

HUMBLED BEYOND UNDERSTANDING

I’ve always been a “nice guy” to people. But there are a LOT of nice atheists in this world. There are also a lot of nice people who don’t even know what they believe. They are remiss to the idea of faith and destitute of the riches of unconditional love spawning from its seed. Faith instigates inner change, permanently. Once Christ penetrates the heart, the invitation extended, the heart is gently but intractably humbled beyond understanding (logic gets lost in the dark as the peace of grace overwhelms the spirit). Immediately, logic demands to understand how the dots were connected through the mystery of grace. Logic, however, will be disappointed to no end until it realizes the root of its desire to understand grace is pride (i.e., “Why can’t I understand this! It must make sense, or it isn’t real!”).

From the past two months, I understand more clearly now why logic doesn’t need to make sense of grace in order for faith to be fully functional: Grace is the internal movement (response/effect) of the outer action (cause) of mercy: While we deserve to be punished (justice for sin), God gives us grace instead of tortureThere isn’t an invitation into humility like this found anywhere else in history or in any other book. Yet this is the invitation—(the “Good News”) not to earn our way to Heaven, but to be transformed (revived, restored, renewed, reborn) through receiving Christ and to respond by living a different life in awe/praise/worship/surrender/love of the God who extended this mercy to us through the selfless sacrifice of His Son.

HAND OVER HAND: GRACE FOR LOGIC

What makes sense to me now that didn’t before are the operative machinations of grace; how humility feels in differentiation to believing one requires logical consistency to connect the “spiritual dots.” Logic can act practically, such as aiding a person in understanding the importance of attending church (community and glorifying God with others, not obligation); it can explain the reasons for having a balanced life of prayer, supplication, surrender, time set aside for prayer, and making God number one—but only grace could create the space for the surrender (whereas logic can only “make sense of,” or intellectualize the reason for these steps/lifestyle decisions, it cannot move us towards or within their essence—which is to bring us closer to God) to occur—not logic. For solid Christians (i.e., Believers who have been pursuing their faith for long enough that there is an “absolute-ness” to it; it has become their essence, not another ritualistic facet of their week), this is 2 + 2; for me, it’s fresh, new, and helpful. This realization took me out of my quest for logical consistency to define my faith and into understanding the importance of humility through the acceptance of grace in my heart. These are, of course, no easy truths to unravel if you’re depending on the brain to pave the path towards understanding faith.

REVITALIZED THROUGH THE SPIRIT

The spirit is not driven by thought (logic), the spirit is moved from the ‘heart’—that is, a persons’s life force—which is connected to the spirit (the spirit—which is connected to the Holy Spirit once it is called by the grace of Jesus through the Spirit). If we can receive this truth, then we can surrender our propensity to have logical consistency take the reins and instead, receive the free-flow of the spirit as it moves through us from within.

Logic can and should be used as a complement to faith, but not as a pillar, cornerstone, or explanation for faith. Grace initiates, surrender follows, the spirit rebirths (revitalizes), and the body (flesh/brain) experiences the overflow (Empirical Adequacy: the inner-working of the Spirit’s movement inside us, existing as the experience verifiably considered “proof” or “evidence” for faith in something ((namely God/Jesus)) beyond our understanding/logic).

I like the saying, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience,” because with regards to logical consistency, this makes sense of our experience with Jesus, faith, and logic. We want to make sense of having faith in what we can’t logically explain, but in receiving grace, logic is abdicated as it is humbled into a new role. We could call this “abdication” a miracle, because it, too, is beyond our understanding. Grace opens our eyes (removes the “veil” of ‘spiritual blindness’) to a plane of possibility logic cannot comprehend—in turn, permitting our logic to learn to depend on humility and the ‘pull’ of the Holy Spirit, rather than the brain-induced need for logic to make sense of it all. 

RESTORATION, AND EMANATING JESUS

Why am I a Christian? A very close friend asked me this; not as a test, but as a means of having me introspect my faith. I am a Christian because I’d rather give all that I am to the cause of Jesus than to any other cause. What is His cause? Restoration/perfection. Out of love, He wants to rebuild our spirits with perfection and eternality. Never leaving us the same, He desires completion for us on our own behalf. He knows what completion is because He is the very epitome of completion. This is the humbling aspect of Christ: Not only did He die for us while we were still sinners, but He did so when He was not lacking. He wanted to create us as an outworking of His love so we would be able to experience His essence. There was no reward for Him in this decision—it was entirely unconditional and selfless. He simply wants us to experience HIM, but we must put into practice what it means to be a Christ-follower: Loving our neighbor as ourselves; loving God with all of our mind, heart, soul, and strength by changing our lives (in practical, visible, noticeable ways) in response. We are disciples if we love in His name, if we turn from our old ways upon receiving the Good News that we no longer need to be bound to sin through the past (shame), and that we can be freed to live for Him who saved us while we were still choosing anything but Him.

Yes, I want Jesus to be God; I want Him to be my Lord. There is no other so captivating as He who saved me with His undying love while I did nothing but exist. 

BEYOND TRANSIENCE: FULFILLMENT

If we turn away from Jesus, we know exactly what happens: Nothing. But are we afraid of what will happen if we give Him a chance? Do we grow skeptical that a life of Christ-following means boring church services and obligatory prayer sessions? If this was what Christianity really was, I would still be an atheist. But Jesus is real, and the way I know this is how my heart has been moved by Him. My “spiritual heart,” of course. Metaphorical or not, I have felt Him move; there’s no denying His movement in my life and the lives of others around me. There is clearly a God who created this planet for us in advance to survive, and we are only hurting our fulfillment of a complete life if we choose to believe that this beautiful transience was made for nothing more than aesthetics; that our very sense of purpose is really a meaningless hole left to be unfilled by the empty desires of nihilism. 

LOGIC’S “STICKY NOTES”

No longer do I find myself perusing the walls of logical consistency for the answers to the drawn-out battle of understanding faith. I invite my readers to consider the importance of the role logic plays in our relationship with faith. Rather than viewing logic as a foundation to faith, logic must remain a footstool to gather information in order to bring the investigation full circle; meaning, back to faith. Faith must be the root while logic merely acts as a note-taker. Using logic in this manner calls grace to do the work in our spirits, whereas utilizing logic for more than this forces us to depend on our “sticky notes” for understanding faith in full. We already know why this doesn’t work: If logic’s “sticky notes” are meant to help us understand faith in full, then grace has no significance, and without grace, we are forgiving ourselves from within our own sin. That simply doesn’t work, especially according to logical consistency; one cannot commit sin (unknowingly) and have the omniscient capacity necessary to denote what is sinful—concordantly requiring justice and effectively implementing it. This does not add up whatsoever, rescinding its own argument in the process. No, logic must remain the footstool while grace remains our conduit of understanding the path of humility we are called into by the spirit. With this, we understandably remove grace from Logic’s hands and place it back into the Spirit’s. Logic, with its sticky notes, will be just fine. Grace is sufficient on its own.

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