Why is grace so elusive. It is what we all long to experience more than we admit, and it is also that which we give the most begrudgingly. Even the sound of the word is soothing…grace…I think so many of us fail to give grace because we have never really apprehended its reality in our souls.
Often, even when it -seems- that someone is exercising grace…somewhere below the surface is a desperate act hoping to be loved, seen, appreciated. To simply live an active life of grace towards ourselves and others is not a part of our cultural conditioning.
We are taught early on to look out for ourselves…trust no one…protect yourself at all costs…never give an inch…make sure you are happy first…do whatever it takes to get on top…when relationships are destroyed we hear words about necessary losses or dealing with collateral damage.
Grace is an unknown tongue from an unknown world in the midst of the city. God infuses us with it so that the heart of humanity receives healing. I like what the great reformer Martin Luther said:
"Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes."
Maybe that’s why grace is s hard…it’s about de-elevating me in order to elevate another through a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit within…On my own I am the center of the universe, but as a follower of Christ, I can choose to allow His Spirit to direct my actions, my decisions, my heart.
In Rembrandt’s painting of "The Return of the Prodigal Son" grace is caressed into the canvas with every stroke of the artist’s brush. The faces in the darkened background long for, hope for and are jealous of grace…The prodigal is simply bathing in the most luxuriant and costly expressions of grace…another’s heart, and the silent wounds of the one who divinely offers grace.
I see the richness of the robes of grace…I see the brokenness of the tattered clotheing of the one in desperate need of grace…I see the quizzical looks on the faces of those who do not understand grace…I feel the warm glow radiating from the Father’s heart, because His love is pure.
I could go on much longer about the flood of grace God has given me which I see in that painting, but it’s your turn…what do YOU see? When grace is part of your ethos, healing is a reality in your community. I look forward to the moment when the grace we give is born out of the heart of Christ, completely free of earthly strings.
This Sunday we’ll talk about loving people when they least expect it…and least deserve it.