Working hard at God’s grace

by Caz Andrews

One thing that Sydney Uni students know a lot about is that you work hard to get ahead.  They are used to being the best and the brightest and they are used to impressing others – their friends, parents and teachers. Their whole life has been about achievement and approval and then they meet Jesus and he does things upside down.

One of the things I have noticed over the years of student ministry is that we find it hard to get grace. How can the God of the universe be my loving heavenly father and love me and accept me as I am? How do I do my life without the usual motivation of trying to win another person’s approval?

As the semester came to a close I was flooded with conversations where people struggled with grace both personally and communally.  There are those moments of real guilt and sin where people need to confess their sins and receive the forgiveness but more and more I encounter a more general guilt and shame where people feel they need to impress God. Guilt around things like not being able to cope with all the pressures or responsibilities of life how they are going in studies or whether they are doing enough ministry.  People seem to carry around this feeling about God being disappointed with them.  We seem to slip back to a position of needing to win God’s approval through our actions rather than living by grace, safe in the knowledge that God loves us.

It affects how we relate to God but it also affects our community as we spend our time trying to appear to have it all together. Working to impress people and to win their approval rather than being real and honest both with our struggles with sin but also with our struggles of doing life. We become a community of approval seekers rather than a community of grace that is based on the reality of being broken people in a broken world until Christ returns.

So pray for the students during exams as they work very hard to do well but pray that they might know the rich deep love of Christ and his grace that frees us all from the constant demand to achieve and impress.

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