Rodney Dangerfield gained global fame on the line: "I don't get no respect!"
Well - you know what? Grace don't get no respect. Really. I can look back at my own life and recall moments and conversations in which I discounted grace as "soft" and "an easy pass". It wasn't that I wanted to disparage one of God's gifts - it's just that at that time - I was firmly in the grip of the sweet delusion that I could somehow be a better Christian, a higher-quality sort of Christ-follower if I needed to take a little less grace - than say ... this person, or that person, or ... you know - you.
For reasons that now sometimes seem so hard to recall - I instinctively avoided meaningful contemplation on grace. In fact - from here on in this post - I'm going to distinguish "grace" before contemplation - and "GRACE" after contemplation and subsequently realization. This change wasn't strictly precipitated by my consequential and thorough investigation of a term that I astutely recognized in a flash of brilliance I'd been conveniently neglecting. Nope. It wasn't until that I needed grace - that I started to look at why it was so hard to find, under appreciated and seemingly relegated to those we don't want to be ... you know - like the people regarding whom we've ever uttered the words: "There but for the grace of God go I."
We can do better. We must do better - for everyone's sake.
While grace - as a license to pity those I'm too lazy to understand - is a miserable and forgettable thing; GRACE - is powerful, mind-blowing and majestic. Poor grace - smacks of hypocrisy, arrogance, and self-righteousness. But GRACE - leaves us gob-smacked by the audacity of God to foist unbelievable generosity on the oblivious. While GRACE profoundly transforms, sad little grace invariably reduces even the best intentions to the sort of "forgiven-large-sums-of-debt" sort of servant - who upon forgiveness - runs out and finds someone who owes us five bucks - and we jump them, and throw the book at them. This of course isn't behavior exclusive to Christians - you can find that sort of behavior in any place at any time ... it's human - but not redeemed human - and that seems to be why it's so offensive to the world when Christians display sad grace ... the whole, wide, freaking world is desperately, desperately hungry for real GRACE.
So what IS that real GRACE?
Keep coming back ... I promise - it is not for nothing that I'm circling this issue - we are narrowing in on the center - slowly, methodically and purposefully. I'm working through these twice-weekly posts to deconstruct the easy thinking about "cheap grace" and once that's dismantled - lay out a case for GRACE.