Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Offense of Grace

I'm continually amazed by grace. It's so complex and it's impact on people is astounding...not always in a good way.

Grace is troubling. It's not always what we want it to be. For the "sinner" grace doesn't lower the bar of God's standard. It doesn't let people off the hook or wink at their sin. Jesus still says, "Be holy for I am holy". That's hard for the "sinner" because they are ashamed of their failure and can't find the strength to obey. They hope that grace will simply forgive and forget.

For the "religious" grace is also hard. It's hard to hear that you and the sinner are seen by God as the same - that your works don't earn you any credit. It's hard to hear that the motives of everyone's heart are wicked and deceitful regardless of how we act. They like to think that they are better than "those people". They want to know that grace has been offered to them because they did something special in God's eyes.

Grace doesn't always make us warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it makes us bitter because we thought it was something that it's not.

But seen through the right lense grace forgives the "sinner" and empowers them to change. Grace gives them the second and third chance (and even more) than they really deserve to be given. And grace offers to them the power of God's Spirit to help them to do things that they never thought they were capable of doing. Rather than merely covering their sin, grace strengthens them to conquer sin. And even if they never achieve the ideal, they know that God accepts them based on Jesus' work on the cross, not their work on earth.

And for the religious, grace can melt their hard heart. It can give them insight into the hidden motives that they are too quick to ignore. Grace helps them to see that rather than being a "cut above" the rest that they share most things in common. Suddenly they are able to talk to the broken, the divorced, the abused, the homosexual, etc. because they see that they too are broken. They don't have it all together either and thankfully Jesus accepts them apart from their good works.

Whether you see yourself more as the "sinner" or the "religious" I hope you can push through the offense of grace and allow it to transform you into the person that God made you to be.

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