I can determine who really loves me when I tell someone I don't understand grace.
I think that surely something has to be done, or earned, or something. The ones that don't really care will tell me that "nothing needs to be earned." That is quite unhelpful. I already know this.
Those that love me will simply ask why I cannot grasp it.
Of all the principles of Christian spirituality, grace is probably the one I have the most trouble with.
This confusion also serves as one of the greatest proofs that God exists, for me anyway.
On the whole, it isn't so bad: because I am frequently puzzled by the persistence of grace, I am frequently reminded of this proof.
There is quite a difference between knowing, understanding, and believing that grace is a one-way transaction. I was caught somewhere between knowing and understanding, and then after that believing is still a ways off.
I think that this is where faith manifests itself. That is, when one is willing to persevere even when the spaces between knowledge and belief have not yet been traversed.
Really, though, God doesn't owe anybody anything, because he has everything, and is everything. So it would follow that him extending grace doesn't make sense at all. Oh sure, God loves us because of his investment in creating.
Does that explain why God's grace and love would persist so fully as to sacrifice the lamb and refuse to give up on humans?
If yes, then God is smugly placed in a box of reason to be understood by rationals, theologians, and religious scholars. Of course God would extend grace, he made us!
But if not, God sidesteps rationality and proofs cannot apply.
And, just as I find grace to make no sense, I do not think his sacrifice and persistence made sense. And, with utter authority, this display of irrational altruism is a proof by which God is shown to be beyond human comprehension.
I do not understand God, and I am glad.
So then, I go on my way, hoping that faith can proceed in such a fashion that I work out grace in my life. I am confused by its presence, and I do not really understand it, but it is quite a mysterious, wonderful thing, and it shows me just how awfully incomprehensible our graceful God is.