The grace we seek

Written by on March 3, 2017

Unknown ArtistIn the eighth century, Christian theologians began describing the relationship among the persons of the Trinity as a dynamic communion, a dance of three persons. Gods triune and dynamic presence creates space within that presence, a space into which we can be drawn. The Son, who is both God and human, reaches out to us, taking hold of our hand and welcoming us into this dance, this perfect love of God.


Debra Rienstra [1]


At every level, the Christian gospel begins with God’s initiating love: creation, incarnation, redemption, and consummation. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God takes the first step over and again inviting us into his dance, his loving life. The Spirit of Jesus moves toward us freely and graciously and with full knowledge of our particular frailties, resistances, indifferences, vices, and virtues. And he makes space for us to share in this Trinitarian community of perfect love.


Jesus describes our relational responsibility when he implores his first disciples to “Abide in me as I abide in you” (John 15:4). The Message translates his invitation—“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” Christian maturity is not a technique or program or formula, but it is a life of learning to keep company with Jesus. Gordon Smith writes,


Without an emphasis on union with Christ, spiritual formation will be a frustrated effort to become like Christ. It will eventually become nothing more than self-development. The grace we seek is not so much to be like Christ as to live in dynamic union with Christ, abiding in him as he abides in us (John 15:4).[2]


Might some of us be trying to live the Christian life without actually involving ourselves with God? It is foolishness and frustration to strive after an ideal life of Christlikeness without opening ourselves to God’s gracious friendship. God intends to transform our lives—yes—but more fundamentally, God desires to share his very life with us. Our maturity then becomes a by-product of immersing ourselves in this relationship with Jesus. As C. S. Lewis concludes in Mere Christianity, “The whole purpose for which we live is to be thus taken into the life of God.”


Friendship or communion with God is the goal of Christian maturity.  Life together with God describes both our ongoing journey (John 15:4–5) and our ultimate destination (Revelation 21:3–4). God relentlessly draws near to us in a way that draws us into his fellowship. And we discover this life not by striving, but by embracing Jesus’ astonishing hospitality—“dwell with me, abide in me, make your home in me.” This is the grace we seek.

Spirit of God, confide deep in our hearts the stunning possibility of the Christian life, a fully human and holy life, found only in dynamic communion with you…


[1] Debra Rienstra, So Much More: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality (Jossey-Bass, 2005), 38.

[2] Gordon Smith, Called To Be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity (IVP, 2014), 48.

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