Thursday, September 18, 2008

grace

Today I spent about fifteen minutes talking to an orthodox Jewish woman. She was a no-nonsense sort of gal and really gave me some great insight as to where all of the “anti-Semitism paranoia” comes from concerning Jewish perceptions of the church. It seems that, while many Jews see American Christians as allies, the same can’t necessarily be said of European Christians. Through some recent study, I’ve come to recognize a little of the church’s anti-Semitic past. Still, it was interesting to hear it from her perspective and also a good chat in general.

In other news, this past weekend, while teaching a couple of sessions at a retreat, I was approached by a thirteen year old Dutch girl who asked me simply; “Have you ever heard of The Beatles?”

Now listen, in case you don’t know me well, I’m a little sarcastic. As a friend recently commented a couple of posts down, a “sarcasm key” would come in very handy for me. You know, somewhere right below the “Shift” key. Just something to make it clear that “I’m being sarcastic right now!”

Sarcasm is something that I use throughout the day and, to my own detriment, something that I often think translates over the internet. In fact, a few months ago I posted an article on what I dubbed “Canadian Rage” and set off a windstorm that eventually landed me in the head cheese’s office trying to explain why a Christian leader would condemn an entire Country. It took me several minutes to convince “the cheese” that it was, in fact, a joke written specifically to several very dear Canadian friends of mine. (though, for the record, the fact that I even had to have this meeting sort of proved the point of my “Canadian Rage” claim, but I digress).

All that to say that it was every thing I could do to bite my tongue and simply say, “Um yeah, I’ve heard of them” without any sort of follow up and without stressing the “YEAH” and making it come out as more of a “YAH”. It was painful, I admit.

In another Random happening, I met a girl named “Jade” yesterday. She was a waitress. To give a little bit of background, there’s a slightly infamous B celebrity over here by the name of Jade Goodey. She became famous by appearing on Big Brother (“reality” show) and making a racist remark towards an Asian girl. So I see this waitress named Jade (who happens to be black) and I say to her, “Wow! You’re name is Jade? Did you put up with any flack when that Jade girl made that racist remark on Big Brother?” To which she replied, “No.”. Then silence.

Ok.

My problem is that, when I get in an awkward situation like that, I believe that I can somehow keep pushing and turn the situation from being awkward into being funny. It’s only a theory, however, as I’ve never actually been able to accomplish it. It’s like nuclear fusion. Scientists “know” that it’s possible, but nobody’s ever been able to prove it. The same goes with my “keep pushing and offending and eventually it will become humorous” theory. To my wife’s horror, however, I always keep trying. The things I sacrifice in the name of science (in this case, my pride and my wife’s respect for me)! Anyway, you’ll be glad to know that, in this case, I decided not to try and prove my theory true.

In other news, I was speaking to a friend this week about her newly divorced daughter. My friend is a Calvinist and the divorce didn’t go down well at all. It was a tough conversation.

It’s strange the things that sit before our very eyes when it comes to religion/faith/Christ, yet go unnoticed. I think one of the major themes has to be grace. Jesus was pretty harsh with religious leaders, but for the most part, Jesus never condemned and never seemed to be short on grace. Consider a few examples:

- a prostitute is brought to Jesus for stoning. Jesus invites any sinless person to step forward and get the festivities rolling. Nobody does. Jesus then looks at the woman and states that He too has no condemnation in his heart for her. Pretty big deal.
- After travelling with Jesus for three years, and after once suggesting that he should sit at Jesus’ right hand in glory, Peter then goes on to not only deny any affiliation with Jesus, but also to denounce him outright. Jesus even predicts that Peter will do this! Yet the first thing Jesus tells Mary and Martha to do after He rises from the dead is to go and tell Peter “it’s cool”. What the…!!!
- A Samaritan woman (reviled among the Jews as dirty pagans…and they were indeed, pagans) asks Jesus which temple and on which mountain she should worship. Jesus’ reply? The time has come where that no longer matters. God has come to live among you and no longer resides in a building. You are now free to commune with God on your own behalf, any time, and any place.
- And then of course, there’s the ultimate act of grace. An act so ridiculous that it largely goes misunderstood and overlooked. I know that we talk about it and sing about it, but let’s face it, few of us really have any understanding of the act. It’s like trying to understand the horrors of war when you’ve never been to war. You can’t. In fact, when you’ve never been to war, war can actually seem rather glorious. The same is true of the crucifixion. We simply don’t understand. And yet Jesus went through it for the sole purpose of redeeming us. He even offered that same redemption to the very people who carried out the physical act of the crucifixion. And yet we condemn our brother. We’re dumb.

All that and yet my friend is quite certain that her daughter is going to be condemned for her divorce. Jesus forgives prostitutes, eats lunch with bullies, befriends those who crucify Him, forgives those who murder his people, and lays down his life for all of mankind, including pagans, but for some reason He may not be able to forgive my friend’s daughter. ???

That isn’t to say that divorce is no big deal. I’m sure it breaks the Father’s heart. But I’m also sure that it mostly breaks the Father’s heart because of how it breaks ours. Our Father hates to see us broken and hates the things that often leave us broken. In this case, I have no doubt that the Father’s heart is broken for my friend’s daughter. But, as I’ve mentioned before, His plan is to pour out His grace on her daughter through us. And I’m sure that the mother is part of that plan.

Why do we find grace so difficult?

Comments on "grace"

 

Blogger tarisayl said ... (7:02 PM) : 

FYI...Baptists condemn for divorce also. Sad, but true.

And sarcasm is an art form. I am definitely not as appreciated for my sarcasm as I should be.

BTW, the word verification this time has your name in it. timb\citjb...Coincidence? I think not.

 

Blogger Larry said ... (5:21 PM) : 

i think we find grace so hard, because we have taken to spreading the gospel with business-like practices.

we live by rules and not priniciples and therein is the rub. prinicples do not always give us control or make us feel superior...rules can...

i wish i could live a bit more under the principle of grace.

 

Blogger Trent said ... (2:21 AM) : 

Ok Tim,

This one is a big deal to me right now. Grace is a big deal because to truly understand it you have to accept it. To accept it you have to admit you need it. And to need it you have to admit your own shortcomings.

Recently in my own life I have had quite a disastrous time. It has the cracked the facade of "I can handle this on my own." The problem is I can not handle it on my own. I have had to accept grace which I would have found hard to grant. In other words I have not met my own standard of behavior. I need grace. To accept grace means I have to admit my own shortcomings. I don't know about you but glorifying in my own shortcomings is not something I usually enjoy, but apparently Paul understood the significance of this concept.

So Grace as important as it is, exposes us as we truly are; we are unable to handle it on our own.

 

Blogger My2BoysNMe said ... (1:52 AM) : 

Divorced and Forgiven. By grace. Thank God!

Also extremely sarcastic! Once had a screen name that was "sarcastically yours". I love sarcasm....

 

Blogger Cari said ... (12:47 AM) : 

The simple answer is shame. Satan uses it to paralyze us.

I once found an electric bill with a cut-off date the very day I found it-right before I was expecting a house full. I called the electric company, hauled my tail to the nearest payment center, and handed her the bill and my check, which was way more than I remembered it being. She deadpanned, "Ma'am, this electric bill is three years old."

Shame would have had me trying to convince her to take my check just in case. Logic had me jumping up and down doing the happy dance because I knew it was paid for.

I wish that we could take Christ at his word, and know that we ARE forgiven-as well as others. Divorce is a tough one. People see our failure and either have an opinion or avoid us.

When I went thru this shame thing, I got stuck on the verses about Jesus turning and looking at Peter when he denied him the third time, and then on the verse where he told Mary to "tell Peter," knowing Peter thought it was a deal-breaker. As I got over my shame, I got "bored" with grace. I knew that God wasn't calling me to sit and read those two passages over and over. And then I found Jesus and Peter's last earthly interaction where He told Peter to feed His lambs, and it was a beautiful moment where I was sobbing out loud. I understood the privelege of serving God, and felt like He was in the room reinstating me to the Kingdom.

A while back you called me Peter (remember?). I have always identified with his arrogance as well as the bitterness of his shame, and have finally accepted the same grace. It was a defining moment. The times I get haughty and judgemental, somewhere somehow God pulls me back to those passages and reminds me who I was.

Hey-just a thought-you need to start working on an emoticon for sarcasm. I getcha.

 

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