Friday, August 3, 2012

In-Your-Face Grace

Early yesterday morning, my heart was troubled.  I'm struggling with a big question - how God wants us to live our lives.  There is so much vehemence when people make us feel like we are living wrong, or when they point fingers at others for living in a way that makes them happy.  I feel like so many people in my life just think God wants them to be happy (if they think about Him at all), so they just pretend that is all He cares about.

I can't pretend that is all He cares about, but there is a bigger issue at stake for me.

In the midst of this kind of thinking, how in the world do I demonstrate a good and Godly life in a way that honors Him and others, but yet still reveals the Truth I know?  As I continued to work this over and over in my mind in the pre-dawn hours, this one phrase kept coming back to me:

Father, Forgive Them For They Do Not Know What They Are Doing. 

Those words, as recorded in Luke 23:24, were spoken by Jesus during His crucifixion. John Wesley said this about that statement:
While they are actually nailing him to the cross, he seems to feel the injury they did to their own souls more than the wounds they gave him; and as it were to forget his own anguish out of a concern for their own salvation.
Jesus’ words are so powerful.  They are so shocking and in-your-face.  This is real grace - totally radical.  That is what God looks like people!  He is more concerned for your soul than what is happening to Him!  It gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, to be honest.  It is so out-there, so far beyond what we would think to express, especially in a moment of torture.

As a Christian and a human, I cannot dismiss the impact of these words.  They are life-altering.  They are earth-shattering and eternally cataclysmic.  It is Who Christ is and What He came to do wrapped up in 49 letters. 

This world is so broken.  We broke it a long time ago, and we all have a part in continuing the brokenness or bringing healing.  There are people who say they know God but do not.  We can't deride them for it because we used to be exactly like them.  I know I was.  I paid Him lip service for 15 years but did my own, wicked thing. 

But someone prayed for me to be forgiven.

I know of two precious friends who took on the mantle of being God's grace for my sake, for my salvation.  It was through their prayers that I truly experienced His forgiveness, love and care.  Through them, He got in my face with His Grace and I was a goner.  It wasn't wrath that made me turn, but the devastating power of love that changed me.  It took many months of this before I began to understand what I was doing - and that He wants more for me than just to be happy.  

God wants all to come to salvation.  You have people in your life you want to know God.  They will not, by your words, come to Christ.  They will come by your persistent and faithful prayers.  Use this prayer of Christ's to ask God to show them His sweeping forgiveness and grace.  It is only then that they will begin to understand the change He desires to make in them.  Forgiveness is the catalyst, the spark that ignites the fire. 

This is the essence, for me, in living for Christ. 

I still need this grace as much as anyone.  I don’t always know what I’m doing.  I'm still learning how to let God's happy, verses my own, fills in the blanks of my life.  He is still shattering me with His Grace.  All I can do is try to live out of that, as best as I can and pray He will make me better today at being the vessel of His ridiculous grace than I was yesterday.  

No comments: