Posted by: ritagone | May 18, 2016

Overwhelming Grace

How full of grace are you?

I just finishsucceed-or-surrender-handcuffsed reading a book called “Hidden Agendas” by Steve Brown in which he talked over and over again – to the point of exhaustion (mine, not his) – about how grace-filled Jesus is toward us. Example after example in both scripture and real life where God extended His heart of mercy to people who didn’t deserve it (and none of us deserves it).

I think for the first time I truly realized just how deep God’s grace goes, because I realized also for the first time that had it been me, I wouldn’t have extended that kind of mercy to a David or an Abraham or a Peter. I would have gotten mad and stayed mad or hurt or frustrated. And felt completely justified in feeling so. I know this to be true, because I’m still deeply mad at a few people who have violated my sense of fairness or justice toward either myself or others. “Seething” might be a better descriptive word. I know nothing of grace where these violators of my standards are concerned. And the scary part, I have realized, is that I don’t even want to know anything of grace; I am quite content in my seething, thank you very much. So God’s grace, polar opposite of my attitude and reaction, quite literally amazes me.

And then just that day, after finishing reading the book in the morning, I was called upon to exert just a little bit of the kind of grace Jesus exhibits toward me. Can’t go into details in order to protect the privacy of someone else, but I found myself challenged and thinking of what I had read in Brown’s book. Mostly I was thinking of how easy it is to read words on a page and nod your head in agreement, and yet difficult to live them out in real life. My knee-jerk reaction, unfortunately, is to find reasons to condemn: why can’t people behave? Why must they keep on sinning when they know better? Why don’t they understand (what I so easily understand)? What’s wrong with these people? (Not ever myself, mind you.)

At the basis of my lack of grace is always a kind of smug arrogance and pride: I don’t behave that way, I know better, I don’t displease God with such behavior.

Sure, I do.

Sure, you do.

Then why do you and I (and everyone) always seem to be so agile in being the guy or gal who stays behind to cast that proverbial (or literal) stone? When Jesus asked the men standing around the woman caught in the very act of adultery (John 8) to cast the first stone at her, they all fled. Every single one of them knew that their sin was just as heinous. That’s pretty amazing, since their sins were much more covered and hidden than hers at that point. I wonder: had I been there, at that scene, would I have been the one to stay and pick up a rock? Am I just that arrogant and sure of my chastity in every realm of my life?

And if I am, shame on me.

And yet, and yet, even that horrible attitude is covered by the grace of Jesus. Even that does not send Him running away in disgust from me.

We truly have – I truly have “a God that consumes us in His grace, a Beloved of infinite tenderness” (Catherine of Siena). Let me understand that grace more and more so that I can be consumed by it more and more.

 

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Responses

  1. Rita- I relate very well to this post and appreciate the humility you show in sharing your own attitudes toward “other sinners.” Thank God that he is beyond gracious to us in our sin. I will never understand his love for us but am eternally grateful to rest in it.


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