ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος·
(For of the fullness of Him we have all received moreover grace upon grace.)
– John 1:16
In the first chapter of the book of John, the author presents the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, explaining that out of God’s “abundance” or “completeness,” He gives “grace upon grace” to his children. The Greek reads “charin anti charitos” and means literally “favor/grace in place of grace.” (Greek found here.)
A more popular English translation reads:
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
This grace does not stop. It does not falter. It is like a pounding waterfall, never letting up its continuous flow. From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
And I cannot understand it.
I have been attempting to understand this concept of grace for a long time. Most recently, I chose “grace” as my OneWord for 2013, a word I would focus on and try to grasp through blog posts, prayer, meditation, conversations, and life experiences. I have written more than a dozen blog posts regarding grace at my previous blog and I even created a Pinterest page for thoughts, pictures, and quotes.
It was the beginning of May this year when I got upset about how I just don’t understand grace. I felt as if I were “rebelling” against God’s free gift, as if I could choose whether or not to make it a part of my life. Or can I?
I mean, how could a perfect, holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing God not only not give me what I do deserve (mercy), but then give me what I don’t deserve (grace)? I am not the kind of person who has doubted God’s love, and I tend to take it for granted often, but considering that he doesn’t hold my sin against me, that he doesn’t see my sin when he looks at me… I doubt his grace almost every time I think about it.
This is the first post on my new blog, part of a website which I have been working on for some time. I decided I wanted to name this blog “Grace Upon Grace” because this journey to understand, or even attempt to live within, God’s overwhelming and encouraging grace is not going to be contained to the year 2013, or this OneWord project, or even this stage of my life. In fact, I anticipate to struggle with this for a very long time because I don’t think God can ever be completely understood. If I could actually wrap my mind around him, he would not be worthy of my praise. I know this will be a journey because developing a relationship with God is a journey. Learning to live as who he says I am is a journey.
So I invite you to join me.
This is my personal blog, where most conversations about God, Grace, and becoming-an-adult will take place, but I you can check out my blogs for overseas student teaching and my 30 Before 30 Project. You can also read old posts at my previous personal blog.