Monday, August 27, 2012

Grace is the largest of all the large concepts that we learn from the Word of God. It is large beyond our capacity to grasp it. It is large in both quality and quantity. God's Grace. Grace abounding. Grace upon Grace. Grace filling our lives and our world in Christ.

I remember a story that my father told in a sermon once, an illustration about Grace. In this story, you are the observer of a scene... a scene that is seen from a distance. A figure of great grace and beauty stands poised high upon a pinnacle, a great white spire. All of a sudden, the figure leaps from the top of the pinnacle and dives down, far down, straight as an arrow in a perfect, graceful dive, falling and falling, seemingly forever, until the graceful figure penetrates the surface of the sea. Down and down and down goes that beautiful figure of light, into the depths of the ocean, deeper and deeper, until there is no more light. Only darkness in the gloom of the depths of the deepest ocean. Upon reaching the bottom of this black place, the figure of light delves into the muck and mire of the ocean floor, burrowing ever deeper into the mud and slime of the bottom most parts of the earth. Finally, the creature reaches out and takes hold of  something. With a motion like a coiled spring, up comes the figure of light, grasping a slight, wretched creature. Up and up and up they rise. Upward into the pale light and further up into full sparkling light again, finally piercing the surface and bursting into the daylight again. The figure, now grasping the pale, wretched creature now flies like a beautiful angel like bird, returning upward and upward to it's place on high.

The story is meant to portray the distance that God came to save us. It is meant to try to portray the depths that God had to delve in order to save us from the darkness. It is, of course, a feeble attempt. We cannot possibly know how far God came, or how much he gave to save us. We can only really understand it in human terms. A father's love for his only son. What a gift.

I wrote something about Grace a while back. I wanted to try to illustrate this large concept. It is, of course, a feeble attempt. There really aren't proper words to explain it, I think. Anyway, here's my swipe at it. It's a little graphic, so don't let the kids read this one, folks.



Think of the person that you hate most.
Consider your own worth, your value, not to your mother, or wife, or to those who love you most,
But to those who hate you most.

Pick a number between 1 and 100, or between 1000 and 10,000, or between…
It doesn’t matter, just pick a number.
Now divide it by itself.
1000 divided by 1000 equals 1.
That’s too high.
There is no number for your value.
There is no number for my value.
We are zero.
We are less than zero.
We are an infinite negative number in value.
Math is no help here.

Let’s consider nature.
Think of the most unattractive stray dog that you have ever seen.
No, dogs are too loveable.
Think about a leach or a tick.
Think about a hyena caught in the act of eating an innocent fawn in the darkness.
Nature won’t work either, not horrible enough.

Think about mankind.
Think about Hitler, or Stalin, or Vlad the Impaler, or Manson, or Jeffrey Dahlmer, or some other despicable monster from the gallery of history.
He is you. You are him.
The most vile, murdering, torturing, raping, sadist that you have ever heard of, or could imagine.

Now cut out his picture. Your picture.
You worm.You bastard.
You despicable monster.
Paste it on a piece of paper.
No, blow it up into a poster.
Print thousands of these posters.
Put them on walls and billboards everywhere.
Offer yourself up to the multitudes as an object of scorn.
Now ask for forgiveness and affection and love from them.
From anyone.
You cringe at their response.
Wretched Monster!
How dare you seek forgiveness!
Picture yourself being dragged before tribunals.
Accusations, condemnations, sanctions, censure, disgrace.

No one defends you. There is no defense. You are a monster. No one stands with you. You are utterly alone. No one speaks for you. Who would possibly advocate for a despicable creature like you?

Shouts for your head, your blood, your life!

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
After the beatings, and the tar and feathers, you lay still in the gutter.
Wounded, bleeding, abandoned, covered with offal. Discarded.

Left for dead.

And then you feel a feather-light caress across your bruised brow.
You turn your head… and you are face to face with a child.

An innocent, beautiful child.
He stoops over you, stroking your head with his hand.
He gives you a drink of cool water.
He smiles and sings you part of a lullaby in a soft lilting voice.
He helps you to your feet, and takes your broken hand in his little hand, and he leads you home to his father’s house. 

Welcome to grace.

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