This being the Thanksgiving season —shouldn’t thanksgiving always be in season? — I thought I would take the next few blog entries and talk about grace. Of all the things we need in this world — food, shelter, clothing, security, etc. — nothing is more essential to our well-being than the grace of a good God.
But what is grace? How is it distributed? Is it reserved, like worldly wealth, only for the few, the fortunate? Does it go to those who want it most or deserve it best?
Grace is not about what you deserve. In fact, grace is not about you at all. Or me. Grace is all about God, who He is, His nature. If grace were reserved for the ones who most deserve it, then it wouldn’t be grace. It would be “just desserts.”
I have always been bothered by the bombardment of commercials and advertisements that appeal to our sense of entitlement. You know the ones I mean: “Get the (insert product here: car, credit, life partner, job, diamond) you deserve.”
What is it that makes any of us “deserve” the best of the best? Why are we entitled to the best health care, retirement, 4,000 square feet of living space, et al?
Grace is defined as “unmerited favor.” Here in America, we don’t do well with unmerited anything. We tend to hold in contempt those who get things they don’t earn. We don’t build monuments to people who buy their groceries on food stamps or take their lunch in soup kitchens. We revere the achievers, the doers.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with that (other than the way it seeps into Christianity and we end up with these “big name” rock star celebrity pastors, authors and singers, which seems particularly sickening.) Honoring achievement is a good thing. The Judeo-Christian work ethic is honorable.
It just isn’t grace. You cannot deserve grace. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it because God is better than your bad. He is greater than your insignificance. He is mightier than your weakness. He is more holy than your sinfulness. He can reach farther than you can run. He can stoop lower than you can sink.
Concerning grace, I will quote a Clint Eastwood character: “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – http://osteriapulcinella.co.uk/menu_item/negroni/ Ephesians2:1-10 (NKJV)
That, my friend, is the anatomy of grace.