Posts Tagged ‘Divine grace’



January 29, 2013

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-24

There is one redeeming fact about snow – skiing.  Yesterday, my family and I got to do that glorious activity for the first time this year.  It was an absolute blast.  However, our day almost got off to a rough start.

The mountain is about two hours from our home so we have to get going early on a ski day.  Alarms rang out through our home and everyone surprisingly started moving without much door banging.  We pretty quickly had our gear stored in the van, electronic devices were all powered up, an adequate supply of CD’s were gathered, coffee mugs topped off, Costco muffins in hand and we were jettisoning ourselves out of the driveway on our way to a winter playground.

There are several small towns along the way that annoyingly increase our travel time.  Upon exiting the city-limits of the second town, we saw what no traveler wants to see in their rear-view mirror; flashing lights.  My initial thought was that I just needed to get over to let this brave responder speed onto whatever emergency was calling.  My indignation raised when the lights slowed and the car pulled in behind me; “You have GOT to be kidding me,” were the words I chose to express my displeasure.

Police car emergency lighting fixtures switche...

Police car emergency lighting fixtures switched on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The police officer greeted me with a blinding light to my face and notified me of my wrong doing.  I had done the grievous offense of actually rolling through an intersection under the yellow-light of a traffic signal.  The officer acknowledged that I was doing the speed limit. He acknowledged that the light was yellow when I entered the intersection and turned red only when I was fully in the middle of the intersection.  However, he felt that I should have tried to stop.

I was trying to summons all of my poker-face will-power to maintain an expression of innocence all the while I was thinking,

“Come ON; this is ridiculous – THAT is not even illegal.”

I dutifully gave the officer my license, registration, and proof of insurance.  He sauntered back to his police cruiser to determine if I was a “wanted man.”  A few minutes of lost travel time later, the officer came back to my window with the words that I was hoping to hear, “Mr. Blom, I am going to let you go with a warning.”  He talked on after that opening sentence about the hazards of yellow-lights, blah, blah, blah.  I had already determined that the reason he didn’t give me a citation was because he couldn’t – “Let me go; Really”.  He was going to see me again in court if he had given me a ticket so “letting me go” was good for all of us.

The police officer had shown me grace by letting me go with a warning but I definitely was not very appreciative.  I grounded away at my Costco muffin and slurped my coffee as I contemplated the arrogance of that officer for the next 30 miles.   As far as I was concerned, his grace saved me from nothing more than having to come back to this little town to plead my case in front of the county judge.  I was sure that I would win because “I had done nothing wrong.”

At about mile 31, I realized that my attitude was pretty bad.  I realized that I was acting in a very similar way as many people do toward God’s grace.  They don’t feel like they need it.  After all, “they have done nothing wrong.”  We Christians talk a lot about sin and the resulting judgment.  We quote the Bible verses about how if you hate someone, then you have committed murder; if you lust, then you have committed adultery.

Many people think or actually say, “Come ON; this is ridiculous – THAT is not even illegal.”

This is why the gospel is so offensive to many.  They don’t believe that they have done anything that is deserving of a punishment; particularly a punishment like hell.

These folks will typically admit that they may not be perfect but that they are mostly good.  They are not criminals; they haven’t hurt anyone; they love their families; they are responsible; they have done more good things than really bad things.  They are in the intersection of life on a “yellow” at the absolute worse and that is not illegal – they don’t need grace.  Grace is just a manipulative device of arrogant religious people who want to feel better than everyone else.

There are many people who are offended by the arrogance of Christ’s grace for something that they don’t think they really need.  Grace is of no value when you don’t think that you have done anything wrong.  It’s a “yellow” after all. The only ones who need that kind of grace are the ones who have lived life in the “red.”

There is an attempt by some to make the gospel more palatable by emphasizing that being born-again will make your life better.  It is an attempt to make the gospel less offensive by removing the issue of repentance.  A person will never have to face the issue of their sin and condemnation if they are presented with a faith that will make their life better.  The problem is that faith based on a better life devalues grace and can be easily tossed aside if it doesn’t work.  No one will appreciate the grace shown by our Savior if they don’t believe that they really need it.

True faith has to start with repentance.  Perseverance is grounded in the understanding that we need to be shown grace.  Jesus did not come to make this life better. He did not give us a parachute to make our flight through life more comfortable.  He gave us a parachute because this life is going to crash and burn and we need to be saved.  Repentance is an acknowledgment that I actually do need a Savior. It is a demonstration of the belief that our judgment is not ridiculous and that the way we have been living is against God’s law and is worthy of eternal punishment.

I discovered something disturbing after a quick Google search upon my return from our ski trip.  It actually is illegal to enter an intersection on a “yellow.”  According to the legal code that I read, “A driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal… is thereby warned that the related right of way is being terminated. Unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, a driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…”   Hmmm, that was unexpected.  I have been running yellow-lights for a long time.  I didn’t realize that was illegal.  However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been a chronic violator of the law.

That police officer had shown me grace. 

I feel a little foolish after all the ranting I did.  I feel like I should go back to that little town and give him a real apology; give him a real expression of my gratitude.  He had not been arrogant.  He had actually been giving me a warning and showing kindness to me and my family.

I am very thankful I had not openly rejected his grace, even though I didn’t really value it at the time.  If I had rejected his grace, I would have stood before a judge, plead my case, and lost.  I believe that will be the case for everyone, believers and unbelievers. I believe there will be so much of what we thought was safely “yellow” that will be revealed to us as still worthy of condemnation; that we are violators of God’s law even though we don’t realize it.  I think that we all will be amazed at the extent of grace that Christ has made available to us.  The issue that we all face is that we can’t grudgingly  accept God’s grace but not really value it.  If that police officer knew my heart, I am pretty sure I would have gotten a citation.  I deserved it after all.

God knows our hearts.  We can’t accept Christ as a safety net.  We either accept him as our Savior for our sins that we acknowledge are worthy of punishment or we don’t.

The grace that we have been shown is truly amazing.  It is amazing whether we appreciate it or not.  However, that grace must be received based on the purpose that it was provided – to save us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for having me pulled over yesterday to get the opportunity to contemplate your grace more.  Father, please forgive me for not appreciating the gift that you have given me like I should.  Your grace is truly amazing.  I cannot even comprehend what you have fully done for me.  Lord, continue your work of opening the eyes of this unbelieving world to their desperate need of a savior.  Father, continue to draw the lost to you; use me Lord to speak the truth of your grace and mercy to those who you are calling.    Amen

%d bloggers like this: