Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Costly grace will cost you absolutely nothing, but it will demand that you risk absolutely everything.

Love the LORD, all you who worship him; the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. Psalm 31:23–24

On August 24, the Church remembers St. Bartholomew, called Nathaniel in the Gospel of John and one of the twelve apostles. Tradition says Bartholomew traveled to India and founded the Church in Armenia, where he was flayed to death and then beheaded for the faith.

Jesus taught the apostles, saying: ‘Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. With you, this must not happen. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here I am among you as one who serves! Luke 22:25–28
How can we have amazing grace for all of our own people — but have amazingly quick finger pointing for all who aren’t?
How can we love mercy for our people, and not love mercy for all people made in the image and likeness of God?

When we are against abortion but are for the cutting of welfare, when our political agendas are loud but our daily schedules are pretty quiet about serving people different than us, when we get up on our soapboxes about morality, we look like we’re more about self-preservation than community transformation, we look like we’re more about judgment than Jesus. The life of Jesus would radically suggest: The most conservative in theology, should be the most liberal in loving.

The life of Jesus would radically suggest: Don’t advertise your beautiful faith without advertising your broken-down faults — because those broken-down faults are the exact reason why you need your beautiful faith.

The life of Jesus would radically suggest: This Cheap Grace is costing the Church its voice. –Ann Voskamp, 
So Ann quotes a lot from Bonhoeffer in yesterday’s meditations.
And serving is costly.
And sometimes, well, a lot of times, I fuss and fret at God because the Way is bumpy and uncomfortable and unclear. And Not Fair. That is why He gave us a lamp unto our feet. To see the next step right in front of the last.
But the written Word was not clear enough for us hard-hearted and broken people, so the Word became flesh and dwelt among men. And the Word took off his royal robe, wrapped a towel around His waist and knelt down and washed grimy feet.
And my day is filled with grimy feet and grimy fingers. And trying to teach kids who moved here last year from Rwanda how to conjugate verbs in Spanish or the girl who didn’t sleep last night because her parents were fighting and now she doesn’t want figure out how to solve word problems. And lots and lots of people who don’t do things exactly as they should. Or how I think they should. Who say one thing and do another. Just like me.
And Ann reminds me that The Bible is full of hypocrites — the Bible is full of liars and cheaters and mockers and deceivers, adulterers, peddlers, panhandlers, elitists and hypocritical crooks — and the Bible is full of a costly grace for every single one of them — which gives every single one of the likes of us appalling, relentless hope.
It’s never our unwavering clinging to God in our brokenness, but God’s unwavering carrying of us through our brokenness — that holds all the broken in a healing love.
And Bonhoeffer reminds me of the call of the one who was pierced for our sake: The call of every Christian is to come pick up a Cross and come die.

And it is in this daily death that I will find life. Fresh life springing up out of the earth, green and full of hope. And it pretty much rained all night last night. From when I dozed off in the hammock in the backyard from watching lightning streaks to drizzling all the way through swim practice this morning. And as I flipped back and forth, I thought about all of the weeds that were going to fill the front yard. The front yard that I cleared for five hours just a few Saturdays ago. But yes, there are going to be bright blue and orange and yellow wildflowers mixed in too.

And His rain falls on the just and the unjust. And it is not my job to weed His garden. It is my job to sow seeds.

Take my heart, it is Your own
And fill my hands with seeds to sow.
And Ann talks about His rain as well. His raindrops of mercy. And a costly grace.
…the way it is when a costly grace rains down relief on all our open wounds —-and you can’t help but dance, all the broken and busted tearing up the dark.
I thought about old Nathaniel as well. Who had no idea where that call from under the fig tree would lead him. But Jesus promised that he would see great things, that he would see heaven open wide.
For the joy set before him.
For the joy set before me.

Take my heart, it is Your own.