I was once taught by a wise man that in Greek, grace meant to stoop in compassion and be willing to help. I remember reading the words in St. Luke's gospel which describe Jesus. There were 2 adjectives that he found after all his investigation, which described Jesus. "Grace & Truth". The painful part is the truth, it's the part that no one wants to hear, it's the part about everyone being on the ground. Before you can realize the beauty of a God who stoops to our level in compassion, you have to recognize that you're the one in need of help.
I had a bunch of my close friends from Bible School at my house last week, it was amazing how much we loved each other and respected each other, and yet how I'm sure if you asked each one of us, we would have been ashamed of many of our choices since Bible school. We would have many regrets (at least I do) but in spite of all that and the possibility that we knew the truth about each other's secret faillures, we still had grace and love for each other. I'm reminded by my friend Jenn quoting Oscar Wilde I believe, who said 'the best view of the stars is while laying in the gutter', or something to that extent. That kind of grace from my friends makes me remember why the gospel is so important.
In my lecture notes it says "nothing surpasses the gospel in relevance or urgency". Those words seem colloquial in Christianity, but more and more I think it is true. Jaroslav Pelikan once said "If Christ is raised, nothing else matters, if Christ is not raised, nothing else matters". I thought about that statement for probably longer than a healthy time, trying to figure out all that was being said. I think it means that if the gospel is true, and that Christ stands victorious over death and all else, then everything else is subordinate to the ultimate importance of that truth. And likewise, if the gospel is a lie, then life itself has no inherent meaning. The resurrection really is the proof of everything. It's such a beautiful picture, that God himself has walked through our path the first time in the person of Christ. He showed us our victory over death, and he walked every step of the journey. In the deepest part of my soul I want to be able to walk that path. I think my faith needs to be renewed in his grace, I need to believe in the God who stoops, the gracious God.
There's a prayer in the Rosary I prayed tonight, it's at the end of one version of the 'Hail, Holy Queen' and the line is "Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ." I don't know whether we are imputed Christ's righteousness, or whether we are infused with it, but in the everyday part of my life, this is my earnest prayer. That I might be made worthy of the promises of Christ. I think of those promises off the top of my head which seem so unreal, but so amazing, John 8:12 "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but shall have the light of life". "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, will yet live". I love the verse that describes Abraham as a friend of God, I always talk about it with people and about at the end of Deuteronomy when it says that no one has ever known the Lord like Moses who spoke with God face to face. I want to be made worthy of the promises of Christ, and I think if I can - or rather if God can (for the Monergists in the crowd), then nothing else will matter... as Dr. Pelikan pointed out earlier.