[Part 1, Chapter 3]
When the angel calls Mary ‘favoured one’, he is saying, “You are covered, filled, enriched, and over-flowing with grace.”
Grace is not primarily a theological concept. Nor is it solely a definition of either how God relates to us or how we see ourselves in relation to what he has done. That could be called ‘transactional grace’.
What is a transaction? Well, you go to the ATM, put in your card, choose your transaction, key in your pin, and if it’s a withdrawal, you take your money. A very good transaction. But it’s what you do with that money that is transforming.
Jesus carried out a transaction when he died on the cross. Yes, you are forgiven by him, restored in him, and receive life because of him. It is foundational. It is absolutely necessary. However, it’s a starting point. What you do with that determines whether it is transformational or not.
Let’s investigate. How do you see yourself?
Do you see yourself as a sinner? Do you call yourself a forgiven sinner? It may be true, but it is not how your Abba Father talks about you.
Rather, he talks about you—indeed, to you!—as favoured one!
Flowing from what Jesus has done for you, you can now see yourself as a favoured one. Seeing yourself as a favoured one changes you. It is not just a transaction Jesus carried out on the cross in the past, but it is transformational for today. Favour changes everything in the present.
“Greetings, favoured one!” is the Angel’s opening phrase to Mary because everything else he is going to say to her and do through her impinges on this.
Some time back, I was travelling from Brisbane to Toowoomba where I was speaking at a conference. As I had to pass through Ipswich, I thought it would be good if I stopped in and visited a mate of mine, Anthony. I was going to ‘bless’ him with my presence, you know, to share some words of wisdom with him!
After our cuppa, Anthony said, “Pete, I’ve got something burning on my heart I want to share with you.”
He pulled out the Message translation of the bible, turned to Ephesians 1, and read out loud all of verses 3 to 14.
Something amazing happened as he read. My indignation—“ahh, Anthony, you don’t share with me; I share with you!”—it melted. My heart became soft and receptive. I experienced, from my Father, through Anthony, genuineness and acceptance.
I was being covered in favour. I sat there and was transformed through favour.
“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” (Ephesians 1:3-6, The Message)
The words ‘lavish gift-giving’ or ‘grace’ in verse 6—the same phrase used by the angel to Mary—had me pondering, celebrating, and grateful the rest of my journey.
I assure you, I left his place different than when I had arrived.