My Uncle called me yesterday to say “thanks” for the post on “Why Messy Grace?”. It made my day. Each of your comments are precious to me and I treasure the dialogue that this platform gives us, but hearing “thanks” from a family member–someone I know personally and admire–is just a bit sweeter.
During our conversation, we talked about how the older we get, the more we realize different things that really matter in life. I was holding the phone, talking to a guy who tragically lost his wife, the love of his life, the mother of his two young sons. A guy who appears to not only be surviving, but THRIVING. That’s a different kind of grace, the grace to hold on. It is still messy…and wonderful…and unique…and beautiful.
Later in our chat, we got on the topic of “Cheap Grace” and how so many people think that my non-conservative theological bent cheapens the work that Jesus Christ did on the Cross. Folks who haven’t had the same realization that Uncle Pete and I have had. Folks who still think that unless they beat themselves up and judge and criticize everyone else when failure happens, they aren’t living for the “high calling”. Folks who think that perfection is attainable and that it’s the goal.
Newsflash: perfection is NOT attainable and is NOT the goal.
Regarding “Cheap Grace”, my view is just the opposite! I think that if we do not take hold of grace every single time we mess up, it is then that we cheapen His work on the Cross. Jesus Christ didn’t die so that we could reach perfection on this side of eternity. He died the death of a criminal. Almighty God humbled Himself to human form and was tortured and ripped apart for one reason: reconciliation. His ultimate goal was re-connecting with the children He is so passionately in love with. He died so that every single time we fail…AND WE WILL FAIL…that we can simply say the name “Jesus” and He will save us. He saves us from our sins, our anguish, anxiety, fears, hurts, and every struggle that we’ll ever face. And that salvation never runs out. Ever.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t try. We should try our best, every moment of every day. But we will never ALWAYS succeed at this walk toward Christ. There are potholes, hairpin turns, and traffic jams along the way. But don’t worry about those things–the only step Christ Jesus wants you to be concerned with right now is the one step that He has placed before you today.
When we focus more on goodness than grace, we get it all wrong. It’s not about our goodness. There is no one good. It is all about His grace.
The Bible is clear that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.
His grace wasn’t cheap, and I don’t want to ignore it by trying to clean myself up.
Remember: the only step Christ Jesus wants you to be concerned with right now is the one step that He has placed before you today. And that is a step toward His wonderful, beautiful, messy grace.
6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. 9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
The Death-Dealing Sin, the Life-Giving Gift
12-14You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. 15-17Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18-19Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
20-21All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.