Monday, August 18, 2008

Cheap Grace

There are many heroes of the faith that I have. Among them are Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Elliot. One such heroe, spoke often of Cheap grace in his now classic literature. I admire Dietrich Bonhoeffer for his non-violent resistence to the evil that pervaded his home in Germany during the Nazi regime. Even though being a part of a plot to kill Hitler, he knew that to kill another was wrong and begged for God to forgive him, before he was executed by the Nazis.
Cheap grace, is something Bonhoeffer speaks of a lot. I've been astounded in my many years as a Christian how much it prevades much of what we do.
The concept of cheap grace is that, grace is given freely (which is correct), but we can do whatever we want once we have it, because salvation has absolutely nothing to do with how we live.
However, that concept of grace is so contrary to scripture. It is difficult to read scripture and say that our actions are irrelevant. I don't believe God saves us due to our actions, but actions defintitely have a connection.
Jesus is preaching in Matthew at one point. I imagine a large portion of dedicated Jewish followers, who love God surround him. He begins speaking of sheep and goats. How the goats didn't serve the least of these, so they will go into damnation. How the sheep did serve and thus they would enter into paradise. The funny thing about this story is that neither the sheep or the goats expected what was coming. The sheep didn't expect to go to heaven, they were just living out of the overflow of their hearts. The goats, EXPECTED, to make it. They thought they were in. They didn't make it. The versus don't talk about praying a 3 sentence prayer for salvation, it talks about a lifestyle. A way of living, that is so engrained in them, that neither group knows what they are doing.
It's exciting to read about the sheep. How they make it to the kingdom without even knowing, that part is awesome! We hate however to read the part about the goats. Sadly, I equate them with many church people. Who think they can enter heaven on a wing and a prayer, without having a true transformation of their lives.
Without the transformation, we are residing in cheap grace. Without having a change of heart, that ultimately overflows into action, it's difficult to say if grace was truly embraced at all.
I like to say it this way, Jesus didn't die to make nice Christian people. If that's all he died for, we might as well chuck the church out the window, turn it into a social club, and I might as well go back to school and become the english teacher I intended to be. There would be no point! He suffered an excrutiating death and endured humanity just so we could achieve what public school systems have the ability to achieve? No! He has so much more for us. He died so that we might be transformed. That we might have life and have it abundantly, which means being crazy, which means being radical, which means stepping out and caring for everyone. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because we can't help but live out of the overflow of a grace that is anything but cheap.... it cost Christ his very life.

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