This weekend at Friendship Community Church Pastorhoney got me to thinking about amazing grace vs cheap grace and the following is my attempt at a thought on the subject:
The way I see it
amazing grace is selfless
and cheap grace is selfish.
And being both cheap and selfish I can say that I’m much better at the cheap kind than amazing kind.
So how did I come to this amazing conclusion? Good question!
I discovered it when I recognized that at the heart of most of my grace giving is my self-protection, self-improvement, and self-image. Which goes like this, when I offer grace in an attempt to keep the peace, to look holy, to make people like me, to like myself or just to make my life easier, I’m offering a grace that will ultimately benefit myself, and I’m all about myself, believe me, (which any astute person like yourself will immediately identify as selfishness, bravo!). So you’ve come to the same conclusion as me, cheap grace is selfish.
But after listening to Pastorhoney say yesterday that we need to grow in the reality that grace becomes more and more amazing the more we grow in truth, I started to attempt to apply truth to my own feeble concept of grace.
See, growing up in Oregon made me part hippy, a free grace giver (which goes against my high truth personality I’m well aware, but I’m crazy like that). See, while I love the law, I also like letting people (myself included) feel their oats, be who they were meant to be, I like carefree living, I don’t like disagreements or arguing, and so grace gives me just what I want, peace and quiet. But looking at this “generosity” of my spirit today has made me dive deeper into the reasons why I offer grace the way I do and when I do, and what do you know if I didn’t find that I most often offer grace for my own benefit. Yuck, that’s gotta change. I guess that’s why it’s so easy to offer grace when I’m happy and carefree, but push me, disagree with me, frustrate me or in any way anger me and “NO grace for you!”
Is that really what grace is all about? I ask myself and anyone who will listen.
I recognize that what makes God’s grace so amazing is that even after we fail we are forgiven, after we break the law, do evil, hurt another, reject our God, He still offers us His forgiveness and love, not because He doesn’t want a fight, and not because it makes Him look safe or approachable but because of our genuine grief over our mistakes and our agreement with Him that His ways are better than our ways. Grace draws us back into the surrendered life, the life that says, “I am a sinner in need of a Savior,” and in that condition I find everything I need in Jesus Christ.
As Deitrich Bonhoeffer put it, “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
When I give grace for selfish reasons I’m not offering grace at all, because I’m not offering the gospel, I’m not offering the Savior, only your forgiveness in exchange for my comfort. This is what I love about church, there the message turns the lights on in my cobweb infested mind and spirit and allows me to do some much needed dusting and to let the light purify the mess. I’ve got a long ways to grow in grace, but I’m thankful that God has shown me what lurks in the shadows, so that I can grow in the truth that I must grow in grace and in the reality that grace becomes more amazing the more I grow in truth. Like Jesus I want to be full of grace and truth. Let the growin’ begin!
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