The church is most appealing when the message of grace is most apparent. Similarly, the church is most effective when the message of grace is most evident.
– Chapter 13: Commissioned for Grace. The Grace of God, by Andy Stanley
I’ve been reading this book by Andy Stanley. On grace. For a girl raised in the church with an elevated opinion of her own knowledge of the Bible, this is kind of paradigm shifting.
In the context of the last post, I read the chapter called “Saved by Grace”. It’s a good summary chapter for me. Hammerinng home the point that’s been the most counter-normative for me. That heaven is full of forgiven people. Good forgiven people. So-so forgiven people. Bad forgiven people. Horrible, forgiven, people. But it is God’s goodness that got them there. Not their’s.
The Bible story to illustrate this is the parable of the workers – the ones that are hired at the beginning of the day and the ones hired at the end are given the same, generous, pay.
I saw a rainbow today in the clouds. A reminder that God, unlike me, will not nuke – ahem – flood, the Earth again. Not because we’re good, but because he’s good and because he can. His promise is not dependent on our behavior. That is grace. Undeserved.
Just like he can do whatever he wants with floods and his money and be generous to those who “deserve” it he can give to those who don’t (us).
The second story Andy told really made me think of my self-righteous self in a new way. You know those two criminals on either side of Jesus? On the cross? Apparently the Romans rarely crucified criminals if they were capable of rowing. *cue Ben Hur montage – or was it Spartacus? Anyway, nm.* but for these two guys to be killed they would’ve had to be really bad. Loose canon bad. Not rehabilitatable. Better off dead than doing slave labour. Bad.
And one of them recognizes Jesus. He talks to Jesus (is it still praying if he’s right there?). And Jesus responds. And he says, “Today, where I’m going, you’re going.” this is deathbed conversion. This is the worker that got hired at ten to five getting the full-day’s pay. And this guy did not deserve it.
Christ gave it.
That’s grace. That’s our faith. It’s not about doing good things to pay back God for saving you. It’s not forthose who deserve it based on some arbitrary subjective human standard. It is Gods gift. For everyone.
So the next time you want to have a conversation about right and wrong and how we should live our lives, Christians, remember that you and I, whether we identify with the long life of service of one like Paul (not without his sins as Saul), or we identify with the men that hung beside Jesus, it is only in Christ, only His righteousness, that saves.