21 Feb Under-valued Grace
One of the perks of working in a Christian organization is time spent in morning devotion at the Lord’s feet. At work, we follow a daily devotional called Everyday with Jesus by Rev. Selwyn Hughes. It will have a small Bible portion, a thought to meditate on and a prayer. We spend some time discussing the thought afterwards. Every bi-month will have a theme to meditate on and one of the topics was on Grace. Some truths about it were eye-opening and the illustration I am going to talk about was born after about 5 months of meditation.
Grace to a regular church’ goer’ might sometimes sound like a narrow topic. We hear and sing about it so often that we know it is ‘amazing’ and it is because of that we have eternal life today. But just a superficial understanding of grace with important and regularly used Christian jargons can terribly under value grace and we start treating it as an exclusive right that we can demand than an undeserved privilege. It will make us live arrogantly than gratefully.
The concept of a Savior dying for my sins and wiping it all away even before I was born and commit those sins might be hard to fully understand. Those who mock the Christian faith say that we can sin until the last minute in our lives, then ask for forgiveness and go straight to heaven. What is wrong with this logic? And why do some Christians still justify when they sin and say “God will forgive. . . isn’t He a merciful and gracious God”? Has grace become that ‘Cheap’?
Let’s imagine this situation. The scientists of the world have put their minds together to create a wonderful technology which will give electricity to everyone all over the world. Unfortunately, they make a big mistake and they have started an irreversible radiation which they know will kill everyone in the world. Governments, schools, universities, research labs and every institution drop all projects in their hand and try to find a cure for this disease. Bridges are not built, overseas trips are cancelled, courtrooms are shut down and everyone is panicking. International boundaries, disputes, fights and egos disappear and world leaders sit together to find out how they can find a cure for this disease. And after a lot of research, heavy spending and all the best scientists working together, they do find a cure for this disease! It is this liquid -like magic potion that every man has to drink and the human race as we know it will survive! However, the catch is this magic potion extends a life by only 24 hours. So, everyone has to drink it every day. And, also it is very, very expensive to make. All nations quickly spend all their money on only in the production of this magic potion and making pipelines and connecting every home(boy, girl, black, white, Asian, rich, poor, urban, tribal and rural) so that people can have it whenever they need it. That’s the only way, mankind can survive. After completing this do-or-die project…mankind does survive. Thanks to the magic potion. Every morning as soon as waking up, and brushing their teeth, every man will look at himself in the mirror, fill his tall glass with the magic potion and gulps it down and lives for one more day. But think about this one man, who stands in front of his mirror with the glass in his hand, remembers all the efforts the whole of mankind took to produce this valuable solution and how it gives life to him every day. . . and without blinking, pours the magic potion down the drain. . . After staring at it for a few seconds nonchalantly until it fully goes down the sink, he fills his glass once more with the magic potion and drinks it this time and carries on with his life.
What is disturbing about this scenario? How would you label that man who had just wasted that life-giving magic potion as if it mattered to no one? Was he proud, arrogant, selfish, cold, plain stupid, senseless, foolish or crazy? What would you tell him when you meet him in person?
But in a way, isn’t grace like this? It has given us life when we were on the highway to hell. Jesus dispensed it to us by his death. It flowed down from Calvary along with the Blood of our Lord. It’s much more precious than any magic potion made by man.
Then why, do we sin? Why do we give in to temptation and worldly pleasure when we know that we have God’s grace with us to say no and yet we trample on it? We begin to feel that our spiritual life has slowed down.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed by the Nazi’s came up with the term ‘cheap grace’. He described it as cheap because it does not consider what it cost God to make it available for us. “The more clearly we understand God’s holiness and righteousness, and more we consider how insistent He is in His Word that His children live as holy and righteous people, the more amazing is the concept of grace. The concept of cheap grace is develops when we talk about grace before we tremble at God’s holiness” – Borrowed from Rev. Selwyn Hughes
All the characteristics of this God we serve are connected in some way. To understand the value of ‘grace’, we need to first tremble before His ‘Holiness’.
From the experience of having a personal relationship with Jesus, I realize that sometimes the burden and monotony of everyday life makes us bury grace. The preciousness of grace when it first appeared slowly dwindled away. Only a consistent, unrelenting, passionate walk with God helps us never to lose the understanding of Grace.
The illustration that I have used is a very simple one and does not compare to the magnitude of His grace which has given us a ticket to eternity. I wish that my fickle nature is broken and I always value His precious, amazing and saving grace.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.”
The author and his wife Abisha are currently working in students ministry with Sishya.