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"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."

Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football manager

Understanding grace

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. Titus 2:11

Many people struggle with God’s grace. Either we cannot believe that God’s grace can really be as good as it is. Or we struggle to accept something we have not earned. Sport teaches us that we get what we deserve. I will never forget a silver medallist’s comment to me at London 2012: “I should have jumped further”. The athlete meant that she had not deserved gold because she had not jumped far enough. The performance-based mentality works well in sport but can be a hinderance when we come to God.

The paradox of God’s grace is that we get what we don’t deserve and could not earn. Our salvation, having our sins forgiven and receiving the promise of eternal life is God’s gift.

Paul spells this out in Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast”. Ephesians 2:8,9

As Philip Yancey so helpfully puts it: “There is nothing I can do to make God love me more. There is nothing I can do to make God love me less”. God’s love is not dependent on our performance. However, we have to be willing to acknowledge that we cannot do it alone and that can be hard in a culture which constantly tells us to be self-sufficient. There is more to grace as we shall see next week.

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