"Grace is not permission to sin without limits, but permission to pursue God without limits in spite of our sin."
This was a key statement in a sermon I preached last Sunday. The sermon was about Romans 1:16-17 and about how the good news about Jesus is the reason for, the motivation for, and the substance of our message to the world. I ended the sermon with a call for Christians to understand their identity in Christ: they are children of God, not employees of God. The difference is remarkable: people who think they have to be a perfect parent/spouse/friend/etc. in order for God to love them are thinking like employees. They think that performance earns God's love. But that thinking misunderstands grace. Grace has multiple sides to it: on the one hand, grace is God withholding from us what we deserve while giving us what we don't deserve, and on the other hand, grace is margin for error in our lives as Christians. God loves us not because we've earned it, not because we're perfect, but because we are his children.