Yancy, in What’s So Amazing About Grace, tells a heart-breaking
story of a social worker’s interaction with a prostitute in the inner city.
The woman was so desperate that she sold her two-year-old daughter to men for
an hour at a time because she could make more money for herself. In struggling
for some positive word he could say to the woman he asked if she had ever thought
of going to church?
Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They
would just make me feel worse.” Indeed we often do make ourselves and others
no hymn is more popular than “Amazing Grace.” Our hearts long for
grace. Even secular, postmodern, pre-Christians wonder what it would be life
“if God were one of us.”
Barclay, commenting on today’s text, warns of two dangers in the life of
faith: “First, there is the temptation to try to earn God’s favour,
and second, the temptation to use some little achievement to compare oneself
with our fellow men to our advantage and their disadvantage.”
knew a great deal about both. For much of his life before Christ. he thought
his status with God was based upon the covenant established with the giving
of the law. He could take great pride in his pure racial identity, religious
heritage, convictions and zeal. (Cf. Phil 3:4-11) We are often guilty of the
same kind of pride expressed in denominational, ideological or cultural loyalties.
God’s people have repeatedly illustrated that if it’s all up to us,
God’s will won’t be done!
the Good News is that it really isn’t all up to us. “Justification
by grace alone, through faith alone” became the watchword of the Reformation.
Paul’s elaboration on that theme is the centerpiece of his theology. No
book, other than Romans, has a stronger emphasis on justification.
tend to think of justifying ourselves by either denying that we have done wrong
in the first place or by explaining our actions and thus absolving ourselves
of any guilt. But the biblical idea is more than “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.”
Justification means that God has declared us righteous.
explanation, “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and
working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being
a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life
showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with
him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central.
It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good
opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life
you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son
of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.”
(Gal 2:19-21, The Message)
Benedictine novice enters the order when he takes his vows, lying prostrate
on the floor before the alter where one day his coffin will rest, the death
bell sounds, the community is silent as the new Monk, covered with a burial
pall, turns his back on his old life identifying with the life of Christ.
once heard Stuart Briscoe express it like this, “You can’t, and He
never said you could. He Can, and always promised that He would.” Or, as
a sign I once saw put it, “Grace Happens.” Indeed it does!
how sweet the sound
that saves a wretch like me,
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now can see.
brief provided by: L. Joseph Rosas, Pastor of Crievewood Baptist Church, Nashville,