The scary side of grace…
Grace. It’s a gift. It’s remarkable…even “amazing.” Last week we came to understand why we can and must live in, and live out grace for God’s sake. But there’s a scary side of grace.
In his book, The Reason for God, pastor and author Tim Keller recounts this story:
Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”
She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was (if anything) more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provided all this for her at infinite cost to himself. (pp 189-190)
What’s your incentive to live a good, unselfish life? For many of us, it’s really just fear. But that’s not grace at all. Grace rightly understood means I belong to Jesus. Is that the grace you’ve experienced?
P.S. I hope you can join us this Sunday, June 2nd at 6:00 pm for our Annual Church Meeting (Road Trip: Are We There Yet?). Unlike other meetings you may attend, this one will NOT bore you, and it WILL inspire and encourage you. You’ll even get to laugh and enjoy good food. Please register if you need childcare.