Grace presents us with one great demand.
I know it seems strange to see the words “demand” and “grace” in the same sentence. Usually we view grace as the means by which we gain acceptance by God without carrying out works of the law. After all, as Paul reminds us, by “works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Many try to earn their salvation. They search the pages of Scripture to find all the demands made upon us and try to carry those out. They view themselves as the stringent Christians, the ones who hold to the highest standards. But grace possesses a demand that might even be greater than that of any legalist.
Those who advocate works of the law mistakenly believe they can do enough good works to merit their salvation. Of course this is delusional on the level of the man who thinks he is the Easter bunny. Exactly how many good works would pay for one hour of Jesus on the cross? Or one minute, for that matter.
But grace presents us with a high demand, too. One that has often brought about surrender.
What is this high demand that grace makes? The answer is very simple: We find that grace demands too much. It demands that we swallow our pride.
The cross offends us because it suggests that we were sinners, so deeply mired in our sin that his death alone could save us. Our sin was no misdemeanor; it was so serious it required the death penalty. It bears mute, but dramatic, testimony to the depths of our depravity. That hits us directly in our pride. That demands that we surrender unreservedly to him, admitting not only our failure but our helplessness. Hence it is a blow to our pride.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your doing; it is a gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).