Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Slap In The Face, A Blow To The Gut

Excerpts from "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey
A Home For Bastards: A Story, page 142.

"In ten words or less, what's the Christian message?" one agnostic had challenged him. The interlocutor was P.D. East, a renegade newspaper editor who viewed Christians as the enemy and could not understand Will's stubborn commitment to religious faith.

We were going someplace, or coming back from someplace when he said, "Let me have it. Ten words." I said, "We're all bastards but God loves us anyway." He didn't comment on what he thought about the summary except to say, after he had counted the number of words in his fingers, "I gave you a ten-word limit. If you want to try again you have two words left." I didn't try again but he often reminded me of what I had said that day.

And a few more lines that demands attention:

The free offer of grace extends not just to the undeserving but to those who in fact deserve the opposite.

We are called upon to extend that mercy, to be conveyors of grace, not avoiders of contagion. Like Jesus, we can help make the "unclean" clean.

The apostle Paul - initially one of the most resistant to change, a "Pharisee of the Pharisees' who had daily thanked God he was not a Gentile, slave or woman - ended up writing these revolutionary words: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Jesus' death, he said broke down the temple barriers, dismantling the dividing walls of hostility that had separated categories of people. Grace found a way.

He (Mel White) added a chilling remark, "As a gay man, I've found it's easier for me to get sex on the streets than to get a hug in church."

Grace dies when it becomes us versus them.

As Helmut Thielicke wrote:
Jesus gained the power to love harlots, bullies, and ruffians...he was able to do this only because he saw through the filth and crust of degeneration, because his eye caught the divine original which is hidden in every way - in every man!...First and foremost, he gives us new eyes....
When Jesus loved a guilt-laden person and helped him, he saw in him an erring child of God.
He saw in him a human being whom his father loved and grieved over because he was going wrong.
He saw him as God originally designed and meant him to be, and therefore he saw through
the surface layer of grime and dirt to the real man underneath.
Jesus did not identify the person with his sin, but rather saw in this sin something alien,
something that really did not belong to him, something that merely chained and
mastered him and from which he would free him and bring him back to his real self.
Jesus was able to love men because he loved them right through the layer of mud.

"To love a person," said Dostoevsky, "means to see him as God intended him to be."

These words are like a slap in the face. When one understands grace for what it is, the atmosphere changes. There's a deeper sense of calling within (i'm speaking both literally and metaphorically here). One can't help but be moved. I am challenged to rebuke myself in front of another person. This is the kind of church that I pray for. And it must start with us. Love them freely, as we have been loved. Love the soul and hate the sin. Embrace each other's brokenness, and believe in the heart of another.

1 comment:

Seeking Understanding said...

Good books giving Godly insight. My face feels red from all the nasty slaps I catch from grace :P