What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Free Grace: God's Problem

Last week Kelly went to an excellent presentation by a guy who's a parenting guru. His cd's sold for $600. They were marked down to a measly $400 for those present that night.

He talked about why they cost so much: "If you pay a couple hundred dollars, you pay attention," he said. "If they were free or cheap, you wouldn't take them all that seriously."

This same concept was confirmed by a friend of mine who does p.r. for a living. "I've consulted with churches," he told me recently, "and you sort of want to do it for free or really cheap."

"But the problem with that is that if you do it for free, no one pays any attention. If it's costing the church a couple thousand dollars, they're taking the whole thing much more seriously."

So it seems that we're much more attentive to things that we have to pay more for. Which means that God has a problem. The Scriptures are adamant that God's grace comes to us for free.

And if you look around at plenty of Christians lives, you can see that there's lots of folks who don't God's grace all that seriously. It's been given to them for free and they treat it carelessly.

So why give us grace for free? Why not put the bar much higher so we take it much more seriously?

The whole concept of a high-cost item compelling us to pay closer attention works in the world of goods and services. But the Scripture is consistent on relational terms when it comes to what God has done for us: sons and daughters, a royal priesthood, reconciled to God, forgiven, holy and dearly loved. These are relational words.

And when it comes to relationships, the principle of high cost getting our attention has the opposite effect.

Have you ever had someone forgive you, but you knew that the forgiveness was solely based on your consistent performance to stay in their good graces? Ever have someone forgive you but only after you jumped through several dozen hoops?

Such "forgiveness" is seldom secure--when it's 'earned' it's contingent upon our performance. It is clearly based on us doing nothing wrong ever again. And so we're left insecure in the relationship, always one step away from the whole thing falling apart all over again.

But because of God's great love for us, God has come and offered us forgiveness, life, in the name of Christ Jesus. And it has nothing to do with our ability to stay on his good side. And it has everything to do with him doing everything necessary to reconcile us to himself.

We are forgiven. And it is free--it has to be so that we can't screw it up. God desires reconciliation with us way too much to allow it to be contingent on our ability to earn his grace. That's part of the greatness of this incredibly reckless (and free) gift.

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