Chapter 20 of the book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” talks about gravity and grace, wherein Yancey pointed out that these are the 2 great forces that rule the universe. Whatever makes us feel superior to other people, whatever tempts us to convey a sense of superiority – that is gravity. On the other hand, grace is all about breaking the moral rules. It is making allowances for everyone’s faults, even though your mind thinks otherwise.
It seems unfair on my point of view to give grace. Wouldn’t it just tolerate the offender to do wrong, instead of allowing that person to reap the consequences of his/her action? How could that person learn how to straighten his/her acts if somebody just said “I forgive you” and never do anything other than that?
This gets me into thinking. The reason why there are many bad people out there is because there are good people who tolerate them. By this statement, I meant to say that good people just say, “Ok, you did wrong – I forgive you”. Forgive? That’s it? No other actions against it?
The moral rules tell us to punish the offender. However, Forgiveness breaks the moral rules.
In God’s point of view, it is entirely mind-boggling different. When you have been slapped in the face, Jesus said to give the other half of your cheek. When you are the offended, Jesus tells you to be the first one to make peace. It’s very strange, right?
While reading through the pages of the last chapter, I was struck by several points of Philip Yancey that really made an impact on my thought life. Here are the major things I have lifted from the pages:
• My pride still tempts me to put on the best front, to clean up appearances. (page 273)
On Sundays, people come to church with those smiles and serene aura that can fool anyone. But on weekdays, most churchgoers do not really live as a Christian – and I have seen a lot of that on others and myself.
• Church should be a haven for people who feel terrible about themselves.
But reality bites hard: the church becomes a place of condemnation for people who do not live up to their Christianity. In my case, I have been away from the church for 11 months. Of course I feel so guilty for not being able to attend fellowships and other ministerial activities. I hunger for the presence of my Christian brothers and sisters. But when I got there, I felt that I don’t belong there anymore.
In a split second, all eyes were on me –telling me things like, “Ayan kasi umalis alis ka pa ayan tuloy napala mo”, “Pupunta punta ng Manila pero hindi naman makapagtayo ng ministry”.
I already felt terrible about myself, and I accept it. But all these things said to me really hurt me so much. I went back to be cured, and to hear words of encouragement, and to feel love and acceptance.
I remember myself when I was still active in the ministry: I handled the music team, I preach at the pulpit once a month, I handle small groups, and I train would-be leaders. Back then, when I see someone that is not performing their “church” duties, I would become judgemental and say things like, “You need to put God first. If you put God first, you will never miss out any of your “church duties”. I even think things like, “Maybe that person did not really accepted Jesus Christ in the first place, that is why she could not live up to her Christian life”
I am so prideful and self righteous before, that is maybe the reason why God has allowed me to experience 11 months in the desert. At this point, I now know the feeling of someone who struggles to go back to God and be right back on track: because it also happened to me. And the last thing a struggling person wants to hear is condemnation.
• Once my view of myself changed, I began to see the church in a different light too: as a community of people thirsty for grace.
When I was starting out to know about Jesus, I was so immersed and dumbfounded by the fact that a sinner like me has still a place in God’s kingdom. But when I went deeper and deeper in my new found faith, I totally forgot that people come to church because they want to ease their burdens. I realized that the church must be a spiritual hospital for people, and not a hall of judgement where your sins and wrongdoings are magnified and judged.
• Perfect, sinless Jesus had every right to be repulsed by the behaviour of those around them. Yet he treated notorious sinners with mercy and not judgement.
This statement has really made an impact on me. I knew some people who are capable of doing things such as stealing, lying, and other forms of unclean acts. But instead of ushering them to Jesus, I just stay away from them and being careful not to mingle with them. I thought to myself, If I mingle with them, I might sooner or later join them in their acts so I should just hang out with my Christian friends.
However, I realized (from reading this statement) that I AM TOTALLY WRONG ABOUT MY THINKING AND ACTUATIONS toward those people. Jesus himself hangs out with what society considered as outcasts. But I do the opposite. Instead of judging them, I must show mercy and compassion. A realization just occurred to me that people do bad things as a result of their rebellion. They just act out what people have been judging them.
We tend to forget that Christianity is all about reaching out to people and show them compassion, love and acceptance. The sad thing is the more we come to know more and more of the God’s Word, we keep ourselves farther and farther away from people. That is the reason why a lot of people are “allergic” to Christians. We must not count the unworthiness of a person, but try to magnify the hidden goodness in a person’s heart.
A lot of people will discourage us, but we must not be tired of giving forgiveness. If Christ has been very generous of His forgiveness and mercy, why can’t we do it? Just like what the book says, “We should hate the sins in others in the same way we hate them in ourselves: being sorry the person has done such things and hoping that somehow, sometime, somewhere, that person will be cured.”
So what’s so amazing about grace? For me, what is so amazing about grace is that this righteous God, who has sworn that He will punish sin and execute justice, has nevertheless seen fit to extend it to a sinner like me.
Final Exam, Module 2: The Making Of A Leader