Gift Wars

Ever heard of the book “Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality” by Debra Hirsch? If not, I highly recommend it.

Last night I was caught off guard with this quote:

[Believers]  who talk a lot about grace are thought to have a low view of God’s law. Correspondingly, those with a high view of the law are thought to be legalists. But the late Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen said this gets the matter backwards: ‘A low view of the law always produces legalism; a high view of the law makes a person a seeker after grace.’ This is because a low view of the law encourages us to conclude that we can keep it–the bar is low enough for us to jump over. A low view of the law makes us think that its goals reachable, its demands doable…

This means that, contrary to what some [Believers] would have you believe, the biggest problem facing the [bride] today us not “cheap grace” but “cheap law”–the idea that God accepts anything less than the perfect righteousness of [his son]… A high view of the law reminds us that God accepts us on the basis of [His] perfection, not our progress.

Stunning.

I’ve always had this struggle of understanding grace, especially while I attended university; everyone had an idea of what it meant to be a true follower, most things, I found, dealt with outward behavior.

In retrospect I, unfortunately, cannot exactly determine what led me to embrace the Father in the first place. I just remember feeling the weight of my wrongdoings and knew that this special person could somehow take the weight away, but to be quite honest I had been to the altar and said the ABC prayer on multiple occasions. There were two sole reasons that made October 31, 2008’s prayer stick: 1.) Witnessing a miracles and 2.) My youth leader who loved me without any agenda to change me.

Huh, kind of sounds like what The Light would do when he lived among us: He would perform miracles and express his unconditional love which brought true change.

Being overseas encourages me to look deeper and deeper into what it really means to follow him and what grace really looks like because I’m not interested in reproducing a set of rules and behaviors, the world has enough already, I want true encounters of Love to happen in lives of those I meet. It’s necessary– I have to sift through my own life and my encounter with Grace in the process.

Oddly, the closer and closer I draw towards Grace the more and more I feel… uncomfortable.

I think, surely this is too much grace! Too much freedom! My sin and perfectionism, the pharisee within me wants to carry a section of the Tree. Surely, it must be too heavy for the Creator of the Universe to carry. I must help.

But I’m learning that Grace is uncomfortable.

Our first reaction is always what can I do to pay you back?

I remember having “gift wars” with my roommate.

My first roommate and I didn’t have a great relationship (I was horrible to her), so when she gave me a gift for my birthday or Christmas or any random day out of the week I immediately felt the burden of having to repay her. I had to give her a gift because I didn’t deserve to get anything from her.

You know what? I never won any of our “gift wars,” she always out-gifted me! Every. Single. Time. One day I just gave up trying to repay her because it was getting expensive.

Trying to repay God is expensive.
No gift we can fashion from human hands effort will do.

When I stopped trying to repay my roommate with gifts all I had left to give was true thankfulness. I wasn’t perfect, but I treated her with a lot more love and respect than before.

Free gifts are powerful, they can do something to us… if we just receive them.

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