Sola Gratia

When you get on and off the subway in England, you will see the caution sign “Mind the Gap.” The gap is the space between the train and the station platform. People who do not mind the gap find themselves under the train and in danger. We are born with the recognition that there is a gap in our lives. The gap is the discrepancy between what we are and how we live and what we should be and how we should live. We know and feel that we could be better, do better, live better.

All religions recognize that there is a discrepancy between what we are and what we should be, and they offer solutions to narrow the gap. Though the details differ, virtually all religions assert that the solution is to try harder at being a better human. If we were a better parent or a better worker or a more compassionate neighbor, our relationship with God would be better. Some assert that, if we tried harder at living simpler lives, if we spent more time centering our minds with the universe, we would feel better and we would be better people.

The problem with the proposed solution is that our best is never good enough. There is more truth than we would care to admit in the old saying, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend to be better in our relationships, but then something stupid happens and we find ourselves tearing down the very people we committed to love and honor. We intend to be more mindful, but there are so many distractions.

Unfortunately, there are some Christian churches that have embraced the same solution to our spiritual problem by offering “Christian” versions of “just try harder.” Some churches teach that we find peace with God by observing certain rites and rituals. Some churches teach that we narrow the gap between what we are and what we should be by following the Bible, using it as an instruction book.

The problem with the “try harder” approach is that it ignores the reality that the discrepancy between what we are and what we should be is actually a surface crack to a much greater problem: We are born incapable of being good enough. We can never eliminate the gap. In fact, our efforts often result in the gap widening. Much of our life seems to be spent choosing the lesser of two evils. So we live with this tension, the desire to be better and the depressing reality that our attempts are never going to be good enough.

Jesus came with God’s solution to the problem of the gap between what we are and what we should be. Jesus did not come with a new set of rules or a 90-day plan of salvation. Jesus came to take our brokenness and our shame. God sent Jesus to bear our sin so that, through His sacrifice, we are not only forgiven, we are restored. This sacrifice is ours by grace; it is a free gift. Paul summarized sin and grace perfectly in Romans 6:23:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We do not earn it and we do not deserve it. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we now live with the certainty of this promise:

"There is no therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

Grace Alone - our declaration to the world that God has freely given us the restoration that we so dearly desire through Christ Jesus.


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