I get a chuckle, okay sometimes a belly laugh, out of the At&T “It’s Not Complicated” commercials. (And I’m not even an AT&T user!)
Have you seen this one?
Infinity times infinity.
That’s the way I’m feeling about grace these days.
Grace leaves me with nothing to say.
I consider myself a law-abiding citizen, of this country and the Kingdom of God, for the most part.
But my obedience was based on fear. I have feared the law because the law makes sense. If I do something against the law, consequences result. If I sin, I deserve to be punished.
Like Detective Javert in Les Miserables, I have sought to live within the law to make sense of a world of chaos and pain.But now, I find myself fearing grace.
Because grace doesn’t make sense in a law-abiding world. The law is predictable, controllable almost. Grace, not at all.
Where the law offers punishment and retribution, grace offers absolution, deserved or not.
In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning examines grace in the story found in John 8, where a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus by a crowd who wants to know how He would punish her. Instead of answering their question, Jesus turns the tables and asks anyone without sin to cast the first stone. When He alone is left to condemn the woman, he lets her go. Manning writes:
Now, get the picture. Jesus didn’t ask her if she was sorry. He didn’t demand a firm purpose of amendment. He didn’t seem too concerned that she might dash back into the arms of her lover. She just stood there and Jesus gave her absolution before she asked for it. (166-167)
Grace was Javert’s undoing.
And it is mine.
When I am undeserving, grace lets me live.
When others are undeserving, grace gives compassion and second (and third and infinite) chances.
When I want to pull my own weight and do my part, grace sets me free to receive.
Grace says thank you and doesn’t try to repay. Grace passes on grace.
I’ve read the apostle Paul’s writings about law and grace in the book of Romans, but it never resonated. Sometimes I don’t understand. Maybe I still don’t.
But grace is changing me, giving me a new set of glasses by which I see the world.
Grace still doesn’t make sense to me.
But if it did, would I call it “amazing”?