Grace in the mundane.
God’s fathomless grace defines everything about us.
In Matthew 10, Jesus gives a message to his apostles before sending them out to do the work of the gospel. And near the end of this discourse, he gives them some simple reassurances that have huge implications. He says, in verse 26, and following:
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:26–31)
I wish to implore upon you today the overwhelming reality and peace of living in “everyday grace.” What in the world does this passage have to do with “everyday grace,” or “mundane grace”? Glad you asked!
Living in grace.
In what begins as a discourse for motivation in the furtherance of the gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to live “in grace” regardless of present circumstances. He doesn’t mince words or sugar-coat it: these guys were going to face persecution and hatred and violence and all manner of vitriol from those opposed to the gospel (Matt. 10:16–23). But still, Jesus exhorts them to faithfully live “in grace,” everyday grace. And what I mean by that is something very profound that Dr. Steve Brown said recently in his talk at Liberate 2014:
If you don’t live in God’s grace when you spill water, you won’t live in God’s grace when you get cancer.
Besides invoking a myriad of thoughts, the truth of this statement is enormous. “If you don’t live in God’s grace when you spill water, you won’t live in God’s grace when you get cancer.” If you don’t live in grace when you lose your keys, you won’t live in grace when you break your hip. If you don’t live in grace in your relationship with your parents, you won’t live in grace in your relationship with your spouse. What I’m trying to say is: If you don’t live in grace in the little things, you won’t live in grace in the big things. The little things matter, a lot. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). There, as in Matthew 10, Christ exhorts his apostles to be faithful in the little things, the small matters of life. Even in the littlest of events and minutest details of life, we need to live in grace, in the reality of what God has done and is still doing, in us and through us. God’s fathomless grace defines us — it defines everything about us. We owe our all to Jesus’s grace, for we are wholly nothing without it. Our testimony and cry must always be, “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.” That is what saves us, grace and grace alone.
Defined by grace.
Grace defines our reactions, and how we respond to things. Whether it’s spilling a cup of milk or contracting cancer; whether it’s losing your keys or experiencing tragedy. Regardless of the situation, we need to swim in grace, God’s ocean of mercy and favor. All of our life, we must live in grace, all the time, no matter what. And we can do this because grace isn’t a doctrine. “Grace is not a doctrine,” Brown says, “it’s 24/7, it’s a pool where elephants can swim and children can play.” God’s grace is for everyone, everywhere, all the time! It defines how we react, and also, who we are. The gospel of grace is our identity. We are characterized by the unrelenting, one-way love of Christ. It defines who we are and what we do and how we think, everything about us. And, furthermore, it doesn’t just define us at church, while we do “Christian” things, it defines us in what we do and where we go. “Everyday grace” is gospel living. It’s part of how God interacts with us and gets involved with our lives. “God is involved in bald heads and dead sparrows,” Brown continues, “and the eternal verities of the Christian faith.”
We’re here because of grace, because of Jesus’s glorious display of the matchless, unmerited favor that God now showers us with constantly and continually. We live and breathe because of grace. Every part of every day is held by Jesus’s gracious hand. And it’s this which must become truest of us in the present.
Grace in the wreckage.
Living in grace daily, in the “every day” and mundane occurrences of life, requires that we live under (live in) the constant reality of a sovereign, an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God who’s not just our Father, he’s our Father in heaven who rules the universe! He’s sovereign over and through everything. Nothing surprises him; nothing is left to chance. (Mt 10:29–30) As created human beings, we’re fickle and frail and uncertain, but God isn’t — he’s Sure, Strong, Solid, the firm foundation upon which all faith and all grace rests; the ever-flowing river from which love and mercy perpetually run to us. And while we may be uncertain and unconfident, we can rest assured that “nothing happens through a blind revolution of chance, for all is regulated by the will of God,” John Calvin notes. God is sovereign in everything. In the big things and the little things, grace is there, grace covers us. “The tiniest and most insignificant benefits are all ordered by his eternal purpose,” writes Charles Spurgeon.
Never forget that God’s with you in the midst of confusion and chaos (Isa. 43:1–3). He shows up “in the midst of [our] trouble, not the absence,” writes Jon Acuff. You could say that our tragedies are God’s “hometown” — it’s where he does some of his “best” work (Heb. 4:15). Knowing that God’s sovereign in our mess, in control in the wreckage of our lives, and he’s sovereign in the routine, the mundane, and the “every day,” that’s when we experience “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). “The godly have the best company in the worst places,” Spurgeon declares, for “God’s presence is all that we need even in the deepest floods of tribulation; this he has promised to us. He does not say what he will do for us, but he does tell us that he will be with us, and that is more than enough to meet all our necessities.” And so it is that Christ is enough; if we lose our keys or get cancer, his grace is enough.
Just in sovereign time.
I recently listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler and was so moved when he said that God doesn’t drive an ambulance. He never arrives late to an accident. He’s not just sovereign over time itself, he’s sovereign over timing. God’s never late. He’s always on time, he’s always in control. God’s hand of grace sustains your life, and, writes Calvin, “as [he] is the guardian of our life, we may safely rely on his providence; nay, we do him injustice, if we do not entrust to him our life, which he is pleased to take under his charge.” Living in God’s providence, his sovereignty, allows you to live in his grace. For, if God’s sovereign, what can mankind do to us? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Christ-followers, we have nothing to fear, because even if everything is taken away, we still have everything if we have Jesus.
Since there is nothing we ultimately need from one another, we are free to do everything for one another. Spend our lives giving instead of taking; going to the back instead of getting to the front; sacrificing ourselves for others instead of sacrificing others for ourselves. The Gospel alone liberates us to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage. (Tchividjian, 189)
Living in grace, living in light of the gospel — that is, the finished work of redemption and salvation by the Son of God, Jesus Christ — is an everyday activity, a constant, living remembrance. Swim in grace, live in grace, every day.
Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013).