Titus 2:11 tells us that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, TRAINING us…” That word training seems to stand out. The idea that God’s grace saves us is well understood. The idea that it trains us is less explored.
We don’t grow in the faith by moving on from grace as if it were just an elementary idea. We grow by coming back to grace every day, finding that it is still true and in fresh supply. We grow by allowing grace to open our eyes, stir our affections, recalibrate our hearts, guide our steps, and sustain us in the ups and downs. We are saved by grace into a new life in Christ. We are trained by grace to grow in that life.
Grace is not just transactional (taking our sin and giving us righteousness); it’s also transformational. Grace changes us the moment the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to it and continues to change us as we partner with the Spirit to understand and live in it more.
The reason being trained by grace is especially important is that we are being trained by other forces all the time. The false gospels of the world and the habits we’ve formed around them train us in a different direction than grace, away from Jesus and his desire for our lives. Being trained by grace, which is what we come to do when we gather for worship, is a counter-formation to the formation of the world. Worship re-aligns us and re-establishes us in grace to live accordingly. Here are some examples of how being trained by the world and being trained by grace can be at odds:
- Forever scrolling images on social media of unrealistically perfect lives TRAINS us to feel inferior to others. Grace trains us to feel fully loved and accepted.
- A professional and economic system built on survival-of-the-fittest TRAINS us that we need to use and dominate people. Grace trains us to serve and elevate others above ourselves.
- A constant barrage of advertising campaigns TRAINS us to feel perpetually discontent. Grace trains us to remember we’ve been given the greatest possible gift.
- A polarized political conversation TRAINS us to create caricatures of people, believe the worst, and demonize them. Grace trains us to have empathy and seek understanding, to love our neighbor.
- Looking at porn TRAINS us (among other things) to objectify and violate people for our own lusts. Grace trains us that every human being has dignity and value and that love gives and strength protects.
- A culture of blame and litigation TRAINS us to hide our sins and leverage the sins of others agains them. Grace trains us to own our own faults, seek forgiveness, and forgive others.
- A pattern of being hurt or disappointed by others TRAINS us to trust only ourselves. Grace trains us to surrender control to a loving God.
- A culture of consumerism and waste TRAINS us that everything is disposable (even people) if there are better options to be had. Grace trains us to love and care for who God has placed in our lives and what he has given us.
- A culture of immediate gratification TRAINS us that we should be able to have everything we want right now. Grace trains us in God’s wisdom and timing, and that the best things often come from long, costly processes that bear fruit in season.
- The disconnected nature of online dialog TRAINS us that our actions don’t have consequences, especially how we treat one another. Grace trains us in the weight of our sin and the power of love.
- Always living for the next escape (e.g. weekend binge drinking) TRAINS us that the only way to get through life is to medicate our hurt. Grace trains us that there is real healing, real purpose, and even joy in the everyday.
- A culture that rejects all authority and all grand narratives TRAINS us to believe that no one should be able to tell us how to live. Grace trains us that we were bought with a price and that Jesus is Lord over all. And that is good news.
- CAN YOU THINK OF OTHERS?
Sean Mortenson is the Lead Pastor of Redemption Scottsdale. This content first appeared in their weekly email newsletter.