Friday, April 8, 2016

Remembering Grace...

"The Father sent the son to be the savior of the world."  
~1 Jn. 4:14

God is about compassion.  In the Old Testament God doled out justice, because God is just and justice is important--without justice there's no mercy--, but it obviously wasn't what He desired above all. He desired mercy and undeserved reconciliation because, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17) He'd already had the opportunity to judge, and show us our need for a Savior. He wanted to extend mercy---so He sent Jesus.

When I was younger and hadn't really experienced much of life yet, I had a friend who had.  While I accepted God's grace, this person was staggered by it.  They often said, "Sometimes you have to know what it is you're being saved from to really appreciate it."  They were right.  The longer I live, the more experiences I've had, the more I realize the capability for darkness that exists in my own heart and soul triggered by the pain of rubbing shoulders with the world around me, the more I am confounded and exceedingly awed by Grace.

It's not, as many assume, that God has a tally sheet in Heaven where He ticks off all the bad things vs. all the good in our lifetime, it's that God responds to the way things already are since the Garden of Eden, when a person (and every person since) succumbed to evil over relationship with God and good. Evil had won until God intervened.

"So why doesn't God just stop evil?" is one of the biggest questions of all time.  Possibly the best explanation of this I've ever heard is by rap artist Lecrae in his song 'Truth':

"Some people say that God ain't real 'cause they don't see how a good God can exist with all this evil in the world. If God is real then He should stop all this evil, 'cause He's all-powerful right? What is evil though man? It's anything that's against God. It's anything morally bad or wrong. It's murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating. But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? If we want Him to stop evil, we gotta be consistent, we can't just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think evil stuff. If that's true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin! Christ died for all evilness!" 

God's response to evil is this, He left His Heavenly throne with all of His power, glory and might, and came as a helpless baby to a cesspool of sin, a world filled with destruction and hate counteracted by only the tiny bit of good that mankind was able to create on their own.  Goodness that on a tally sheet would never make up for the bad. To this He willingly came and lived in the mortal body of a human, experiencing all of the sinful triggers of this life that people experience. He came to respond to the way that things already were, not to judge, but a continuation. 

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains [state of what already was] in him."  
~John 3:36

So He made Himself, the only One who doesn't deserve ANY judgement to take the ultimate, eternal punishment for us. [That doesn't mean that we don't often experience the short-term, limited consequences of the things that we do wrong here on Earth, but we don't experience them forever.] We have absolution.  We regain perfection. 

Matchless Grace.

We need to stop blaming God for the evil that mankind creates ourselves.  To stop being an example of unholy judgement to the world around us when that's not the Father's heart.  He set the example of coming in love, in forgiveness, in compassion and grace. 

Jesus came to bring freedom in more ways than we can imagine.  Freedom from our inclinations, from our responses, from our thoughts and actions.  There's not a rule book that says we need to do one-thousand-good-deeds for every time we murder or maim someone in our hearts. That's really good news!  Instead we can walk in freedom. "Gosh, I failed today, God, I'm so sorry."  Nek minute*, all things new. 

We have freedom to walk into the next minute and then the next as a fresh start, not bound by heavy chains of the past, but NEW.  

Let us never forget to be staggered by that Grace. Compassionate grace that we receive and then get to pay forward with joyful abandon because we're so infinitely grateful ourselves.

*Urban Dictionary: (Kiwi'ism) 'Next minute' said with an accent. Used to express a sudden dramatic turn of events. Left my scooter outside the dairy. Nek Minute... *destroyed scooter lying on the ground*

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