Lifelines November 17, 2019

Grace is the subject of one of our most popular songs, and is surely one of God’s most appreciated attributes.  It makes forgiveness possible for the vilest of sinners as it reaches across the chasm that spans from here to eternity.  The Son of God embodied it to bring salvation to every person.  It saves, educates and commissions.  It casts a much wider shadow than most of us understand.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith…(Ephesians 2:8).”  It is one of the most reassuring verses in the word of God.  When we consider the horror of our pre-Christian condition, it becomes even more impressive.  Sinners are dead, and that is a totally hopeless state.  A corpse is powerless until faith embraces the hand of the omnipotent God.  He raises us, gives us life and seats us with Christ.  It is complete transformation which also brings responsibilities.

“…we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…(2 Corinthians 6:1)”  There is the dangerous potential.  Initially, it means everything to us as we recognize the extraordinary gift of salvation, but does it begin to dull in significance as time goes by?  Have we really allowed the grace of God to change our hearts?  Sin is repulsive.  Do we see it that way?  Forgiveness is costly.  Will we extend it to others through our own experience of grace, or does the grace of God stop with us?

The young man was demanding.  He wanted his stuff right then and there.  He did not want to wait.  He had done nothing to deserve it except be born into the right family and even then, he should have waited in line for his part but he wouldn’t.  His dad gave in to his wishes.  He took his undeserved riches, left home and wasted it all on rowdy parties.  Home and dad looked pretty good from his mess, so he headed back to take his medicine.  He was greeted with a celebration by the same father who gave him things he didn’t deserve.  It is a celebratory picture of grace (Luke 15:11-32), joyful for everyone except…

God’s grace is a challenge for those who have been wronged.  The prodigal’s big brother did not appreciate his father’s gracious reception one bit.  He wanted discipline and punishment of some sort.  After all, his kid brother had taken something he had not earned and wasted it.  It should have been his.  Anger boiled over.  He wanted humiliation, not music and a buffet.  So, he pouted.  Jesus brought grace to an ungrateful nation.  He lived among them and died His sacrificial death at their hands.  Pentecost came and those same bloodthirsty instigators were met with grace.  Repentance and baptism in the name of the crucified one will clean the slate.  Even them?  Yes, even them.  Hard to take?  Perhaps, but the grace of God truly is amazing.