What is Grace?

To continue my discussion from 5 June 2005, "My Grace is Sufficient for You.":

Lately I've come across several references or discussions on Grace, as if by me asking the question, the universe is saying, "I hear you!"

The universe is pointing out that I don't fully understand what Grace is and thus cannot begin to understand this passage. So what is Grace?

Red Green says it's a prayer, it's a way to get into heaven, it's what you say before dinner. One could almost say it's the handyman's secret weapon, although Red Green firmly believes in the saving power of duct tape!

But I have heard some more sober ideas on this subject:
  • It's the invisible tape that binds us all together to God.
  • It's the way God saves us.
  • It's a gift God gave us so that we can live eternally.
  • Grace turns the soul towards God.
  • Grace keeps the soul turned towards God and makes the person good.
  • It's an expression of God's love.
  • It can be received and rejected.
  • It can be conferred upon and taken away.
  • It can be abundant (can it thus be little?).
  • The Bible -- the cheater's guide to thwarting the devil -- mentions Grace numerous times.
  • Grace is God's strength.
  • Grace gives us what we lack to achieve our goals (ones that are in accordance with God's will I assume!)
  • Grace is the antidote to pride.
In life, we face many tasks. Jesus tasked Paul to go out into a hostile world and evangelize. His task was formidable. Although Paul had great religious knowledge and was used to preaching and although Jesus showed him many revelations and visions to fill in his knowledge gap, he still did not have all that he needed to complete this task. Once he started evangelizing, people would want to kill him just as he used to want to kill the early Christians. His tongue was not very persuasive, so that all the knowledge in the world would not endear his listeners to his cause. He faced harsh travel and could, for example, drown easily in storms. Like many smart, educated people, he probably believed he had all the abilities and knowledge to complete his task. He didn't need any help. But that thorn reminded him otherwise. It told him that God's Grace filled in that which he was missing -- and he was missing the necessary ingredients to success -- and allowed him to follow Jesus' command. It kept him from the sin of pride (a very common one that makes me want to scream sometimes since some people cannot even acknowledge how others have helped them along the way).

So Grace...

...turns us toward God, so that we can have eternal life, and then in this world have God strengthen us, perhaps protect us, to carry out our tasks, especially those that God has given us. That strength may wash jealous words off our backs like water off a duck. Or it may lend persuasion to our words. Or it may give us persistence when failure is a sure thing. Or it may remind us to pray to God. Or it just may keep us going to complete a very long, arduous job.