Living with grace

One of the books of the bible that I read a great deal on my personal retreat last week was the book of Galatians. It's quickly become one of my favorite books in the bible, because I find myself identifying with the Galatians on a number of levels.

These were people who had heard the Gospel message from Paul and were overwhelmed by it. They bought in with everything they had to the forgiveness and grace that was being offered to them in the name of Jesus Christ. But then Paul leaves, and the Galatians start to fall prey to other ideas. They start to think that faith is about what they do, about which laws they uphold. And in this letter, Paul flips out on them for forgetting the grace that Christ has given them.

I am a Galatian. I think just about every year I need to read a book along the lines of Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel to remind myself of how much I need the grace of God. Lately it feels like in my life that the need to find approval in others has been trumping Christ's free gift of grace. And this, according to Paul, makes me foolish.

What's even more crazy is that when someone comes to me and tells me they feel that they need forgiveness, I am more than willing to remind them again and again that guilt has no place in our faith, and that Christ has set us free to live in his grace. On paper, this is easy. When it's someone else, it comes naturally. When it's me, it's a whole other story.

I have a feeling that I'm not alone on this one. I think that most people have a pretty easy time assigning grace to other people, but we have such a hard time accepting God's grace in our own life. How do we turn it around? How do we live a life full of grace, not just for other people, but for ourselves?