Offended by Grace
We want to love people—all people—the way God does. We want God to do whatever He needs to do in our hearts so that we’re not only completely captured by His grace, but that we share it as well. At least that’s the hope, the purpose of our faith…to share God’s amazing grace. But what happens when this amazing grace gets watered down by the unfairness of day to day life? Does amazing grace devolve to merely intriguing grace, interesting grace or perhaps even offending grace?
This is nothing new. Even the Bible affirms how people were offended by God’s grace. In Matthew 20, Jesus tells a story about vineyard workers who labored all day long, and then some other guys come in near the end of the workday, work an hour, and get the exact same pay as they did. The workers were furious and complained, “That’s not fair!”
Or in Jonah 4, Jonah was fine with God extending His amazing grace to himself, but when God extended it to the Ninevites—the people Jonah despised—all of a sudden, Jonah didn’t see God’s grace as all that amazing. “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, `O Lord, is this not what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster’” (Jonah 4:1-2).
Jonah was saying, “God, that’s just like You. I knew you were going to do something like this! You’re always wanting to lavish love and give people a second chance. But God, you know how these people are! They’re not good people by any stretch of the imagination! God, they’re not really sorry. They’re not going to change! People are going to think You’re soft on sin!” Jonah was a recipient of God’s grace, and now he’s offended by it. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.
As Christians, we have a definite and clear set of value structures that in turn define (in our minds) how grace should be doled out based on some kind of merit. And, we get highly offended when those value systems are by-passed. Somewhere along the line we lose the amazement and wonder that God’s grace reaches down to the lowest depths and even reaches…us.
When it comes to your sin, aren’t you glad God isn’t fair? I’m telling you, the grace of God reaches lower than your worst mistake, and we are all in need of His amazing grace. That’s why it’s called GRACE. It’s the undeserved, unachievable and unrelenting transforming love of God through Jesus Christ.
God wants to change our hearts. He is the God of second chances, and we need to repent and turn to Him so the same love and grace that we receive so lavishly from God can then be poured out to others. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).