Hosanna! Church

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Let’s talk about grace for a moment.

Grace is one of those words that sounds so refreshing, so inviting, so hopeful. Some might even say that it’s used in Christian circles so often that its true meaning is hidden behind a veil of overuse. Like when you say you love Downton Abbey, (not that I’ve watched that show or anything), and then you say you love your spouse – one wonders if the word “love” has been watered down a bit. C.S. Lewis said it this way, “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”[1]

So let’s talk about grace, real grace, scandalous grace.

At one point, Jesus tells a story about the Kingdom of God and his unfair, frustrating, generous grace.[2] It’s a story where a vineyard owner hires workers early in the day for a wage. As the day goes on, the vineyard owner continues to hire workers; he even hires some when there are only a few hours remaining. At the end of the day, when it’s time to pay them, he pays them all the same wage, regardless of how many hours they worked or how hard they worked. This, Jesus says, is what God and His Kingdom are like.

Does this story bother you? It should. It’s entirely unfair. It is an affront to everything that we do on a weekly basis to earn God’s favor and love. What kind of unfair, insane God is this?

It’s the kind of God who loves you today, just as much as He ever will. It’s the kind of God that loves you without condition. It’s the kind of God who piles on grace, because that’s the kind of God He is. Is it offensive? Is it unfair? Yes. And without it, we’d all be lost.

The poet Shel Silverstein wrote a poem that reflects this sacrificial idea beautifully:

The little boy and the tree play together, make crowns from leaves and play hide-and-go-seek. The boy loved the tree and so the tree was happy. But, as time went by, the boy grew older and became interested in other things. As an older man, the boy was more interested in money and things than the tree. So the tree offers the boy his apples so he can sell them and have money. The tree loved the boy. The boy disappeared after taking the apples but then much later came back telling the tree he wanted a house to raise a family. The tree had no house for the boy, but offered him his branches for wood to build a house. The tree loved the boy. The boy took the branches and used them to make a house. And the boy didn’t come back for a long time. When the boy came back, he explained to the tree that life was not fun. He wanted a boat to go far away. The tree then offered the boy his trunk to make a boat because the tree loved the boy. After a long time the boy came back and was an old man. The tree was a stump now. The old man was too old to collect leaves, his teeth were gone so he couldn’t eat apples, and he was too old to swing on the branches. The boy was so old and tired that he asked the tree if he could sit on his stump, and the tree invited the boy to rest, because the tree loved the boy.”

This is the nature of a God filled with grace. We abuse Him, ignore Him, reject Him and He continues to forgive us. It’s entirely inhuman, utterly confusing, and difficult to accept. Yet, this is the God we follow.

Where do you need this kind of grace today?

Carter Sample

Middle School Coordinator

[1] C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children.

[2] Matthew 20:1-16