Grace doesn’t make sense. It is not instinctive, and it is not fair. We want people to get what they deserve. An eye or an eye makes much more sense to me than “love your enemies” or “turn the other cheek”. God’s scandalous gift of grace is difficult to comprehend. Karma I can comprehend, but not grace. The lead singer for U2, Bono, put is so well:
“You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
I love it! “love interrupts” and grace knows no boundaries. God never withholds his grace, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).
“If your preaching of the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ and it does not provoke the charge… of antinomianism (that grace gives us a license to sin), you’re not preaching the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.” D. Martyn Lloyd- Jones
In other words, we will never really see how alluring, intimate, magnificent, and awe-inspiring grace is unless we hear it preached to the edge. You cannot out sin grace; we must resist pulling back on its reins fearing that some people will take advantage of it. A wimpy legalistic grace has no power to transform. Some pastors are so afraid that people will misuse grace that they hold back by changing the meaning of grace which only serves to keep people in bondage. Paul preached grace to its fullest. That is why he was accused three times of antinomianism. Yes, some people will take advantage of it, but most people will be changed forever when we let go of the reigns. If you have been touched by grace in this way why would you abuse it?
The amazing thing about grace is that no matter how many times you fail, grace is only one step away. You can’t escape it! It pursues the broken, the marginalized, the poor, the proud and those rejected by society. To approach the throne of grace we must come with empty hands and a bended knee. If we do not come broken, with nothing to offer, then “grace ceases to be grace”.
Psalm 139:7-8 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
In my own experience, I have witnessed Grace restore the hardest of hearts the most dysfunctional of relationships that were once “lost causes”. There are NO lost causes when it comes to God’s transforming grace.
Just recently I got involved in a prison ministry called Jubilee. No training or bible study could have prepared me for what God was going to do at the Scott Unit in late September of 2018. The Scott Unit in Angleton, Tx is one of the oldest prisons in Texas and as our team drove up to the unit at 6:00am on Friday morning I could not help but think of the movie, “The Green Mile”. It was everything I imagined and worse. Every hurdle that we had to go through to get from one part of the prison to the next was slow, primitive and in some ways shaming. It was dark, defiled, violated, soulless and inhumane beyond description. But every inmate or “brother in white” that we met was looking for the same thing that we all do – to experience all that God is; his unconditional love, mercy and grace.
Imagine a bunch of grown men jumping up and down, throwing up high fives and low fives as each individual inmate made their way through our pre-game introductions ESPN like tunnel (music blaring). By the time each of these inmates made their way through it was like a light turned on. They were no longer outsiders or forgotten human waste. From that point on I witnessed God’s unconditional love change lives. By the end of the three day retreat former enemies at the Unit were praying for each other – some crying for the first time in years. No longer was there an us and them; only brothers coming together and experiencing the unconditional love of Christ; most of them for the first time ever.
Some inmates (just like all of us) will take advantage of it, but that should never causes us to give pause. Does God withhold His grace from us even though some of us will take advantage of it? Grace restores all that are touched by it. Grace always wins the day!