May 27, 2010

Decoding Grace

Since my church's new website launched this week and the class describe below is what started my redesign of it, It's appropriate that I have this devotional running at Exemplify Online. I hope you'll join me over there.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8, NIV

HTML codeRecently I took a class to learn the basics of HTML—the programming language that makes websites work.

To my untrained eye, HTML code looked like a mish-mash of brackets, symbols, odd words and strange spacing. I couldn’t imagine anyone would ever make sense of it, let alone me!

However, during the course the instructor broke this gibberish into understandable chunks. He “decoded” the code and amazingly I started to understand it. At first we learned to write simple commands to add things like a line or italicized text. By the end of the class, we could create a simple website.

After making one frustrating mistake after another, I learned one important fact: HTML code must be written precisely. One misspelled word, forgotten bracket or incorrect term and your idea won’t execute—at all. When it comes to coding, close isn’t good enough.

Sometimes Christianity can seem as difficult to understand and demanding as HTML. It’s easy to believe we must follow a specific list of should’s and should-not’s to make our faith “execute.” That if we correctly line up a prescribed combination of good things like prayer, Bible reading, church attendance and good deeds, and avoid a set list of bad things like gossip, slander, excess and idolatry then all will be well between us and God.

When our faith feels stuck or God seems distant, it just means we need to perfect our “faith formula” and make adjustments.

But Christianity offers one very important thing that computer programming doesn’t—grace.
Grace means our faith cannot be attained by executing a precise list of thoughts, deeds, actions and eloquent prayers. It’s a gift. Sound too simple? Ask the Pharisees. They tried to write the perfectly formatted “code” that led to God. And, the more precisely they wrote,  interpreted and executed it, the farther away from Him they got. In fact, they ended up so distant that when Jesus appeared right in front of their noses, they didn’t recognize Him at all.

Actions like prayer, worship, works and Bible reading certainly enhance our faith, but these things, done on their own, aren’t the “code” that gets us to God. When we are followers of Christ, they become an extension of our relationship with Him and not a requirement of rituals.

On the cross Jesus did the work for us. In this one eternity-changing act, God told us we don’t need a list of do’s and don’ts to make faith work. Perfection is not required. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace. Nothing. All He asks is that we receive this gift.  

Receive it and follow Him.


Analisa said...


I so need this reminder when I am waiting for God to act in my behalf. I often have to stop my mental checklist of "things" I need to do to please God so he will help me and remember...His grace. Thanks for the reminder.

Runner Mom said...

I am going over to the magazine right now!!! This is great. Can you come to my house and help me decode html so I can work on my other website??? Pretty please?

So glad that y'all had a wonderful trip! How special.

Thank you for the b'day wishes! It's nice to celebrate 29 each yr! And, the precious little girl isn't my daughter...but I love her bunches! I have 2 Barbies or drama here!

Sending you hugs and invites to hike with us whenever you get down here!
Love ya!