What would you say is the difference between grace and love?
More particularly, God’s grace and God’s love?
I was in a conversation the other day about the wording, and we hung up on whether we should use grace or love, and it got me to thinking about what the real difference is between the two.Both words come with their own presuppositions and baggage.
It’s troubling to think that so many Christian words have been misused for long, they’ve lost their real meaning. That, as Christian communicators, we have to over-concern ourselves with them due to fast food meanings people hold in their heads versus the concepts and ideas the words truly represent. We could run the gamut on words that have little or misapplied meanings to our society. There’s grace and love, of course, but also there’s evangelism, mission, mercy, faith, justice, holiness, and so on and so on. Maybe we should blog about them all individually (there’s an idea).
Ok, back on topic. Grace and love.
Different or the Same
The two are ultimately inseparable. But the idea of grace, to me, forms the greatest expression of God’s love because of what it encompasses. Grace, for me, brings love into the story of the Gospel while properly accounting for justice. God is equal parts love and justice, which is why sin so separates us from him. To speak only of, or even to solely introduce God as, love, is to facilitate an ego-Christianity that sees God only for the benefits He brings us.
Without the proper understanding of grace, John 3:16 holds no real meaning to us. Or, it holds a weakened meaning. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” is not only nonsensical to the thinking non-believer, it’s a bad plan altogether. Why would an all-powerful god allow such a situation in the first place? Why is “sending his son” such evidence of love? Why not simply forgive and forget? These are question met with dismal answers without mention of grace.
Love, on its own, left undefined, is not powerful enough to change the heart. Because love is one of those slippery words that we bring our suppositions to when we define it.
But grace, amazing grace, takes the powerful nature of love to the next level. Grace is the width, and depth, and breadth of love reaching out, rippling across the ponds of time to reach into the hearts of the lost and searching. Grace is the freeing element of love, it’s God’s best play. It’s the complete character of God on full display, in all its justice and mercy (two opposing ideas, mind you).
It’s the grace of God that fuels my love for him, and fuels my service in his ministry. Grace is the way to introduce God to the world, because grace frames love in such a fashion that it reveals God’s character more fully to all who are willing to hear it.
I could go longer, but I think you guys get the gist. Comment below and tell me your thoughts on the matter.