God’s gift of grace
When the world seems full of unrest and disrespect, grace can seem like a quickly melting candle, flickering out in a dark night. But this perception of grace doesn’t make it true. Grace isn’t something personally manufactured. It is an active potency, in operation at all times. As an attribute of God, it occurs naturally in His creation and is therefore available to anyone.
Christian Science links grace with Truth, a name for God, and ranks them as the most effective powers. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures states, “Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 67).
The importance of grace is also highlighted by the Bible, which informs us that God’s grace comes to us naturally and is the work of God finding expression as us: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: . . . For we are his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:8, 10).
I grew up on an island where I was a racial minority, and people of my race were often bullied. I was grateful that, even though a Caucasian, I happened to look more like one of the native islanders and could speak the local dialect. So, on my first day at a new school, when I was invited to join a group of native kids, I was delighted. Soon, though, I found that my new friends spent a lot of time bullying those of different races. I was afraid. If they knew I was actually one of these minorities, despite my appearance, might they terrorize me, too? Regrettably, I was silent for several weeks.
Finally, I decided to do something about it. I brought a minority friend of mine to lunch, along with a plate of cookies that I hoped would appease my group of friends. However, the cookies went flying, and threats were made. On my way to the bus after school that day, I was set upon by kids from this group, who kicked me and beat me with sticks, books, and binders.
I had no idea how to escape. I reached out to God as best I could. My prayer was simple. I knew that God is Love; it said so on the wall of the Christian Science Sunday School I attended. And I had learned that Jesus understood God as Love, too. So, I just thought about God as Love.
I was on the ground and covering my head when I saw relief coming—the substitute bus driver. It turned out that he was the uncle of a few of the kids in the group. He immediately disciplined them, but in a way that showed that he knew them to be better than the way they were acting. He seemed to be reminding them of their true nature. They responded with remorse as well as obedience and understanding. He then turned his attention to me and spoke softly, making sure I was all right.
This wonderful man exemplified God’s grace. I felt that he was seeing all of us in the same loving light. This was not just an instance of a good man being nice; this was the grace of God shining through His creation.
As quickly as the event was over, so was the fear. It was God’s grace, as expressed by the bus driver, that healed me and made my simple prayer light up a more spiritual love in me. I was instantly freed of hatred, and I felt filled with a sense of unity with all that is good. Fears for my own well-being vanished, and my courage to feel unity with all of God’s creation blossomed into peace. With that peace came many later opportunities to prove the efficacy of expressing grace that sees each one of us as one with Him, without exception.
Science and Health states, “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (p. 4). Grace and good deeds were embodied in the life of Christ Jesus. The book of Luke says of Jesus, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (2:40). The grace that characterized the master Christian saves us from the villainy that would try to divide us, conquer our fellowship, diminish the impact of our lives, and erode our faith in what is right and good.
In Jesus’ life, grace took many forms, from a loving touch that healed the sick or a persuasive divine view that reformed the sinner, to a firm stand against the money-changers who were corrupting the holy purpose of the temple of God (see Matthew 21:12, 13).
In the book of First John we read, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (5:4). “The world” could refer to anything that wars against God’s loving purpose for His creation. God saw what He created, and “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31); therefore, our God-created homeland is goodness, harmony, and fellowship. It follows that grace and its attending qualities, being born of God, are able to overcome what would claim to be destructive.
God’s abundant grace is continuously expressed in His creation, reflected in qualities such as courage, patience, strength, and temperance. The recognition and acknowledgment of grace, wherever we see it expressed, will bless us as a power and presence in our own lives for the benefit of all. We don’t have to conjure up grace; it is of God, and it overcomes the world. What a great gift!