The word grace has become an accommodative word. We can name our daughters Grace. We say grace at the table. We see professionals in their sport and we call them graceful. When you look at the word from a religious viewpoint, grace is just not reasonable. It is not just, it cannot be bought, nor can it be repaid. It is, at times, laughable, ludicrous, ridiculous, unjust – plain unreasonable.
A friend of mine sent me a story that illustrates this point. A local minister introduced a special guest that was present for the evening service. The preacher told the congregation that he was a minister of long standing, and one of his dearest friends. He invited him to come and share a few words with the congregation.
The old minister began a story of a father, and son, and friend who were sailing off the Pacific coast. A fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high that even though the father was an experienced seaman he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.
The story line had caught two teenagers interest who were sitting near the front of the auditorium. The story continued as the father was faced with an excruciating decision. Having only one rescue line, which boy should receive it? The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew the son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves as the father yelled out, “I love you, son” and then he tossed the buoy to his son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled his son’s friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the blackness of night. His body was never recovered.
By this time the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew. Eagerly waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. The father knew that his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without that saving grace.
With that, the old man turned and sat down in his chair as silence filled the room. After a brief sermon from the local minister the invitation was extended to no avail. As the two teenagers left, one stopped and said, “That was a nice story, preacher, but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his own son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.”
“Well, you’ve got a point there”, said the old man, as he looked down on his well worn bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face as he once again looked up at the boys and said. “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it? But I’m standing here today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me and for you”. “you see boys, your minister is my son’s friend!!”
Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve. Grace just isn’t reasonable. It’s when you get what you don’t deserve! Paul writes, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Die for a righteous cause, die for a good man – but die for the ungodly. Ridiculous! Grace just isn’t reasonable.
Can you really believe that God became human, that he was born of a virgin, and was born in the stables? Add to that the fact that his early training was in a carpenter’s shop and at the age of twelve, he was discussing with the elders in the temple concerning prophecy. Could he have been human and yet divine, the Christ, the anointed one. Are you really saying that he was baptized of John, his cousin, in the river Jordan? It is kind of a laughable story when you think of it from a human viewpoint. But wait, there’s more. This Jesus, this Christ, the anointed one, was taken by the Romans and nailed to a wooden cross, and there shed his blood in his death. This sacrifice, this shedding of blood, was sufficient atonement to pay for the sins of the entire world?
Grace just isn’t reasonable, or logical, or just. It’s outlandish, ludicrous and foolish. You can’t buy it or earn it or deserve it. Your works will never achieve it. You can only receive it or reject it, and that is your choice to make.
This is why Paul writes, “And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins; for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1, 6-10).
“Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). If your faith is weak, don’t read Weatherhead or hothead or deadhead – read the Godhead. This grace is unreasonable and laughable unless you believe and stake your eternity on it. Wonder who will be laughing then?