Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grace is it Cheap or Costly

Right now, I'm working through 40 Days with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It's taking more than 40 days, because I haven't been able to do the devotion ever day, and that's okay.  His comments are deep and thought provoking.  Taking my time means I don't pull a brain muscle.

For the last two days, the topic has been cheap grace.  I'm wondering if the church in the days since the Reformation has made grace so cheap and easy, that it is no longer a treasure?  When the pastor announces the forgiveness of sins during worship, do you feel something?  Or is it a "yeah, whatever, I can get this at anytime." feeling?

Grace has a cost.  The Grace we receive cost Jesus his very life.  The Grace we receive expects something of us.  Cheap grace doesn't expect a transformation, doesn't expect repentance, doesn't expect anything of you.  God's Grace not only expects repentance and transformation, it gives you the ability to make the change.

I forgot whether it was during training for prison chaplaincy or for a seminary class, but on a video a man convicted of sexual abuse said, "Don't be too quick to forgive me."  I recall thinking, he seemed to ask for a chance to live with his guilt, to truly feel the pain and understand what he had done.

During my ministry, I've met with many people in county jails and state prisons.  One individual stole money and forged checks from his parents and friends.  When I met with him behind bars, we got to talking about the 7th commandment:  You shall not steal.  For the next several months, we talked about his crime, what "made him do it", and the like.  After a while, he was hungry to hear God's word of forgiveness.  He realized the pain inflicted on others because he was feeling the pinch.  He took the courageous step of writing a letter to his mom, friends, and others.  He apologized without asking for their forgiveness.  He knew he could never do enough to balance the wrong he committed.  Now, by living with his sin and feeling racked with guilt was he able to really hear God's good news of grace and be transformed.  No longer cocky, a humility came upon him that has not left.  He found his higher power in Christ Jesus.

Ponder the cost of Grace.  Ponder what Jesus paid and how much God loves you.  This is what makes grace so grand.  God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved.  You have been saved for a reason; please don't cheapen God's grace.

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