Quantcast

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank God that His grace knows no bounds.

The fourth poster for People of the Second Chance's Never Beyond poster series makes me borderline nauseated.


I hadn't considered ever coming across someone I didn't think God loves.  I have seen the depths of His mercy flowing rampantly in my own life, and it's incredible what He forgives and washed away.  I, like Paul, have thought of myself as the chief of sinners, no one was beyond me.  But I was slammed against the wall when I came across this picture.  When I saw that the next image to consider was of the KKK, my soul became warped with emotions of disgust, hatred, incredulity, and anger.  I did not want to write about showing grace to these people.  My guts are roiling as I type even now.  I don't want to do it.

I have spent more than ten years of my life in the American South, just below Atlanta, and I've seen a few things.  My very conservative Christian high school administration didn't allow me to go to my senior prom with my black friend.  I have stood up for the Mexican immigrants in front of my boss and a customer when they were accusing the immigrants of nonsense just because they were Mexican.  I nearly lost my mind when a different customer told me she was offended because our PIN pad had Spanish as a language option.  Just last summer I was roaming far back in the woods by my house, and I found an old club house with "KKK" spray painted on the rotting walls.  To put it lightly, ours is not always a culture of equality.  It pisses me off.

Prejudice, hate crimes, cruelty... God hate these things!  I do, too, and I cry for justice!  Thinking less of someone and treating them inhumanely just because they are of a different race is heartless, ignorant, and just plain wicked.  I can't stand it! 

Screaming for action, I look to God in whom there is true equality.  But, when I look closer at this equality, I notice that we are all equally deserving of damnation.  "Ohhh," I say, looking down to the floor.  "Oh, that's right."
No sin is greater than another.  Not only is there no white supremacy in God, but there is no supremacy whatsoever.  All of us are brought down to the same level of helplessness in our sin no matter how good and gracious we think we are.  (Romans 3:23)

---------------------------------------------

Pastor Alex Early of Four Corners Church in Newnan, GA recently delivered a sermon series on Jonah.  He outlined the messages in the text in a way I'd never realized.  The satirical book shows God's beautiful grace to the heathen Ninevites, yes, but only after it is starkly contrasted against Jonah's complete lack of mercy for them.  He hated the Ninevites.  He hated that God called him to preach repentance to them.  He would rather die than see these people given a second chance, in fact, he tried to get himself killed by being tossed overboard during a terrible storm.  Much to Jonah's dismay, the Lord preserved Jonah's life and used it to draw Nineveh to redemption through His mercy and grace.

Pastor Alex has said in nearly each of the sermons in his series, "Who would you not forgive?  Who can you not stand so much that you don't want to see them in heaven when you get there?"  Until now, I hadn't found anyone to put on the list.  But then there's the KKK.  These people I can't stomach stand for everything I don't.  But, I stood for the same things before my heart was made clean.  I am cut from the same cloth.  And, thankfully, the same second chance is offered to all of us filthy sinners.

Thank God that the universe is governed by His rules, not mine.  Thank God that He is not in my image.  Thank God that His mercy knows no bounds!  Thank God that the Holy Spirit indwells me and loves and forgives when I cannot.  Thank God that no one is ever beyond a second chance.   

---------------------------------------------

 I confess my imperfection and the blackness in my heart, and I claim the rejuvenation that comes through Christ.  May I learn the lesson of the forgiven servant that Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35.

The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.  The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!' The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?' The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.
 (The Message)

---------------------------------------------

In closing, I highly recommend that sermon series on Jonah.  Allow yourself to be challenged.  Download the thing and listen to it on your way to work.

Also, for more information on the movement to overthrow judgment and to liberate love, check out People of the Second Chance and the discussion about the Never Beyond poster series!

5 comments:

  1. "they know not..." I trust in this. I trust that blindness is why so many act out in superficial god-like power over another. It is hard to think this kind of forgiveness and grace is for all, yet it is--just as you said. I've thought about how God created them, too--for purpose--and He doesn't turn His back on His purposes. And so, they're worth it...even 'till the end. Such a good, raw display of your own heart--wanting to choose grace and yet humbled at the truth of the difficulty.

    Rich blessings as He takes you further to what Grace is...more than you can imagine...

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Thank God that He is not in my image. " Amen. I can so relate to this post, and especially this sort of thankfulness for His better-than-me-ness :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Milton Vincent writes:

    "If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved ... Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha's hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations... Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross has already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace-filled counsel and prayers..." (A Gospel Primer for Christians)

    By this same token, why should I be shocked at the sin of an unbeliever? I, too, am desperately wicked.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How beautiful. I have nothing to add. You said it perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is an amazing post on the KKK for Never Beyond! It's very true, we, in the eyes of God are no better than the KKK! To God sin is sin, and hate is hate. The worst of us can receive the same grace and forgiveness as the greatest of us. And that's hard to swallow sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! If there is something you want me to respond to specifically, feel free to send me an email; I'd love to chat.