I've been thinking about grace again especailly as it relates to community and environment. My husband grows flowers in a greenhouse and as the grower, he seeks to create an optimum climate for growth to occur. He carefully augments the soil so the seedling can receive the proper nutrients. He gives the plant water in doses that allow the plant to develop a good root system and remain hydrated. As a good grower, he also sets the temperature for maximum flourishing--not to warm--not to cold. The grower creates optimum conditions for the flourishing of a plant.
I think that God has done that for us with his grace. He has created a loving space for people to grow and filled it with grace. Grace is more than a soap dispenser that is dispensed when we sin. Grace is a space in which we are completely loved and accepted by God--and we will not lose that grace and love and acceptance. It is the optimum climate for growing as people.
While grace offers us a beautiful space of warmth... there are times when it is also God's grace to stress us. The good grower knows that if the plant receives too much water it will not develop roots, so he withholds so the roots will grow deeper. He also knows that if a temperature is too warm, the plant will not develop a sturdy stem and when planted in the garden will flop over in the wind.
I think grace is about an environment or a space in which we are nourished for optimum growth.