Grace shifted my thinking from seeing the gospel as a faceless ideology, one where I do good to get good, to a revealed Redeemer, and His name is Jesus.
Success is something I’ve always pursued, and the fear of not succeeding has kept me going, but as the gospel reality has deepened and transformed, my definition of success changed completely. Being raised in the flourishing and opulent suburb of Orange County, the appeal of success led me toward acquiring material things, traveling, letters after my name, and the American dream. But, a grace informed understanding of success has nearly nothing to do with commas in my salary or keeping up with the proverbial Jones’s. Success for followers of Jesus is defined in relationship to Him and His mission, not mine. Now, instead of health and higher tax brackets, I desire being transformed by His grace to love radically, give generously, repent frequently, suffer willingly, walk humbly and engage missionally. Grace changed success from something I do to a gift I’ve received. The success I now pursue is not elusive; instead, it is forever mine since it has been bought by the sufficient blood of Jesus and secured by the seal of the Holy Spirit. I can confidently say that I am not saved by my success; I’ve been saved by grace.
This changed perception of success has created space to witness grace at work. There’s an old hymn that says, “Standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus.” You may not. He’s out in the real world. This grace does not hide isolated in a bubble, but it works tangibly in commerce, accounting, relationships etc. And as grace penetrates new valleys, my gaze lifts to Christ and simultaneously my feet walk in this lost world as a sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16). Grace has been and continues to be faithful to work in a Tuesday night life group, liberal university, secular workplace, drug-polluted apartment complex and the ends of the earth. I’m free to serve a third world country and work in NYC without earning anything.
Grace changed my allegiance and dependence to Jesus Christ and redirected success to point to the finished work on the cross. Success is now an endowment of Christ-saturated thoughts, relationships and actions. This is the fruit of amazing grace, that a wretched sinner would find pleasure in a sinless Savior.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” — Jesus (in John 5:15)
Love you family – Ryan