The grand kids love the spectacular optical effects of 3D movies. They feel like they can reach out and touch the images floating right in front of them. It takes sophisticated film techniques and amazing creative talent to produce these stunning results. But there is one component that is essential to seeing all of the beauty, magic and wonder of a 3D film. A special pair of glasses that cost a few pennies make the millions of dollars of 3D production come to life.
During one spectacular nature scene we were surrounded by a flock of birds. We fought the instinct to duck as they came flying right at us. Then I took off the glasses and the magic was gone. The image was blurry and flat. There was nothing special about the images without the 3D lens.
There is another lens we can put on that changes everything. It is the lens of grace. The lens of grace doesn’t cost even a few pennies. That ability to see others as Christ sees us was paid in full on the Cross. This lens is completely free and always available. When we put on the lens of grace we can see the beauty, magic and wonder in a world that often seems blurry, angry, and confused.
When I put on the lens of grace I see my relationship with Jesus in full and guilt free clarity. I see Jesus standing at my side and explaining that I am completely changed. I see Him telling me that my sins are forgiven and I can quit relitigating past mistakes. I see Him explaining to me that all of those things that used to be true about me are no longer true. I see Him repeating that, because I tend to nod my head without really believing it. Jesus explains to me that no matter what the accuser might say, those things that used to define me are dead and buried at the Cross. I see Jesus telling me that I have the Holy Spirit to comfort me and provide an unshakable source of strength.
He reminds me gently that I don’t have to grit my teeth and try harder to win favor and please Him. He tells me for the ten thousandth time that sin does not have power over me anymore. And I see His demeanor being just as patient and kind as the first time He told me that truth.
And putting on the lens of grace changes how I see others in remarkable ways. Looking through that lens reminds me that I am the Prodigal son who bowed before the Father with nothing to other.
Yet the Father ran to forgive me when I acknowledged my sin and need. While I was still dirty and clothed in filthy garments of sin, I was forgiven, accepted, justified, and wrapped in the robe of righteousness. I was no longer condemned. Satan would have me forget that the robe of righteousness is wrapped lovingly around me. The author of lies reminds me (constantly) that I still wear dirty clothing. He suggests that I don’t deserve to wear the robe until I clean myself up. That is the power of this story. The robe of righteousness is never earned. It is a gift of grace. Even on my worst day the Father wraps me up in this precious garment because of His Son, Jesus.
How differently I would live if I remembered that truth every day. I am a saint. I am wrapped in the robe of righteousness. I am a new creature who is forgiven, accepted, and cloaked in this incomprehensible gift of grace. Even in my failure Jesus loves me anyway and just as much.
The more I understand the depth of grace the more I am compelled to give grace generously and freely to a hurting world. If I am receiving grace, I must also give it. If I welcome the generous gift of grace, I must become more generous. If I accept the gift of forgiveness, I must forgive. If I marvel at God’s unfailing love, I must also love others. Through the lens of grace I seek to understand instead of condemning. I see those irritating people as children of God seeking the same dose of love and grace that I need everyday. And yes, the lens of grace keeps me from hating those who oppose me and allows me to pray for them.
The lens of grace reminds me of my mission.
My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—
the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts 20:24, NLT)
The lens of grace changes everything. I just need to remember to put them on.