Grace of God is hard to define. When I was making baby steps in Christian faith, mentors told me that ‘grace is unmerited favor.’ I found that helpful. But as I continued to experience God’s grace as I grew, I found that this definition is inadequate to express all that God does in my life. Now, I have come to realize that grace of God is such a thing that eludes any definition. Grace, as I understand now is what God alone and no human can do in our lives.
It comes in various colors, shapes and sizes! John, the gospel writer seems to have understood the multifarious nature of grace that he talks about the ‘fullness of grace’ and ‘grace upon grace’ (John 1:17). Or the New Living Translation puts it: ‘From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.’ These expressions mean that grace is not just one-sided reality but a multi-faceted reality. Its fullness is beyond our comprehension just as God evades our understanding.
One of the rare but important aspect of God’s grace is its power to conquer even those who reject it. I call it the ‘conquering grace.’
The story of Apostle Paul illustrates the point. He experienced the grace of God in such a measure that towards the end of his life he would proclaim that ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am’ (1 Cor 15:10). What he is and what he has achieved is the work of God’s grace in his life.
However, the work of grace in his life marks the beginning of his service to God. That however, was the work of the conquering grace of God. He was a rebel who rejected the grace of God in his life. He was full of hatred for God’s own people. Not only that, but he persecuted them, killed them and was bent on eradicating the whole movement of the disciples of Christ. He was actually persecuting the risen Christ.
But what happened on the Damascus road was an act of the conquering grace. God captivated Saul (who later became Paul) by blinding him with a bright light and speaking to him. As Paul fell off the animal he was riding and turned blind, God conquered him by his grace. He became a disciple, filled with the Holy Spirit and became the most important apostle of all time. Thus, the grace of God conquered the vilest of offenders.
As I think of people, some in my close circles also, I hope in God’s conquering grace. They don’t heed God’s Word, they reject godly counsel, some are a law unto themselves. But I hope and pray for them that one day they will have the Damascus road experience where grace will conquer them. When grace conquered him, Paul changed his address. In most of the letters that he wrote to the churches, he described himself as ‘a slave of Jesus Christ’ because the conquering grace had enslaved him.