I’m not altogether sold on this idea of grace.
I mean, seriously, love with no strings attached?
On the surface, at least, I have always been the kind of guy God should want on his team. Some mischief as a teenager, but nothing serious. Always hard-working, loved the Lord my God, and pretty much honored my parents. I’d have made an excellent Rich Young Ruler.
I want Jesus to pat me on the back and say, “Good job.”
And I really, really want him to recognize what a good deal he got when he got me.
I find that he loves those we label as the dregs of society just as much as he loves me. In fact, if we take the gospels seriously, he enjoyed their company a lot more than he did the folks who look like me—and that puts a marker on how I look at people.
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
We can’t seem to get away from this verse. The one that says we do not get to redefine faith to reflect our values; that we don’t get to baptize the American dream and claim it’s New Testament Christianity.
If we are to be authentically biblical, it means seeing people as God sees them.
Seeing their need? Of course. Seeing their potential? Absolutely. But, more important, just seeing them. Not identifying them as someone God looks at differently than He looks at me.
Important point here:
Understanding God’s grace—the way God loves—is antecedent to our sharing grace.
A quick bible lesson: The story of the Prodigal Son. Truth is, the story is not really about the son, and—a thousand Sunday sermons notwithstanding—it is not about the older brother either. It’s about a loving father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The lesson is pretty simple: God has no desire to get even. He just wants relationship. And all my goodness—and their badness—is just stuff that gets in the way of that relationship.
Does God demand a change of heart? Yes. Repentance? Certainly. But once the barriers of sin and self-righteousness are broken, once the prodigal says, “I have sinned against heaven and against you,” there’s no payback. God’s not concerned about getting even.
And if He doesn’t get to, neither do we. Think about this one for a minute. God loves—and really, really wants to have a relationship with—those we avoid. The ones who don’t have our money, manners or morals. The ones we know are different from us.