Psalm 67:1 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.”
There is a whole world view in the words with which the psalmist begins this prayer. In Christianity, everything begins with grace. Asking God to be gracious to us is more than a request for God to be kind to us, to do something nice for us. If you ever listen to radio personality Dave Ramsey greet his callers, when they ask him “how are you?” his stock answer is “better than I deserve.” Better than I deserve. That’s God being gracious.
A Christian doesn’t approach God and say, “Just give me what I’ve got coming to me.” That would be insane. What I’ve got coming to me is really, really hot, and really, really uncomfortable, and lasts forever and ever. I have offended God with my life, and with my attitudes, not the least of which is the idea that somehow I deserve better than I’ve been getting. Asking God to be gracious is a way of saying, “I get it. I haven’t been banking all kinds of favors that you owe me, and now I am calling some of them in. It’s a blessing that you haven’t decided to squish me yet, because every day I am giving you more reasons to.”
But there is a more important part of this world view behind our prayer for God to be gracious. It is our complete confidence that he is! We don’t approach him in utter terror. We don’t come to him as a last resort because we are just that desperate. This is the God whose every dealing with us is always, only love. He doesn’t just send us a Savior. He comes here himself to rescue us. He doesn’t just put up a stiff fight to deliver us from our sins, and dig deep into his pockets to finance the operation. He dies in our place, he lays down his life as the payment that sets us free from all our sins deserved.
Maybe you heard of a campaign for evangelical Christians to text “God is not dead” to all their friends at Easter a couple of years ago. It was inspired by a movie of the same title. It’s true that he is not dead. But at the cross he was dead when Jesus breathed his last. He was dead until Easter morning, all because God is gracious, all because God is so intent on loving me and saving me that there is no price too high for him to pay. In Christianity, everything begins with grace, like this prayer, which understands from the very first words exactly where we stand with God. It starts and ends with grace.