Not a few find grace annoying. It demolishes the sense of entitlement on which religion is built. The ‘snooty’ attitude of the Elder Brother to the joyous celebration of the return of the prodigal son can be seen as the attitude in which we as religious believers might be ‘put out’ or even offended at God’s unlimited radical grace in the application of Christ our life to the lives of the many.
Radical grace is never a means of short-changing God or diminishing you. Christ our life makes us sons and daughters of God. The law as a life makes us less than human – only partly human and much less than alive.
As the Entitled, we could find ourselves quietly annoyed at the thought that we have been faithful in the earning of our acceptance with God by a life of orthodox belief and consistent good works. An experience of resentment about the vicarious humanity of Jesus and its truth of inclusion on Christ’s merits rather than our own, might serve as an indication to us that we don’t really believe in grace as much as we thought or that the kind of grace we believe in is as self-serving as we have made it.
We can massage our template of righteousness so that it suits us. We can make a contract out of our charitable work or a messiah out of a Sabbath. It’s easy enough to ‘do the law’ when we make its precepts thin enough to fit our convenience or the icons of our church culture. It’s curious how we can obsess about sexual sin - since it is the most obvious and most guilt ridden and justify life habits and attitudes that are in this season killing the earth. If murder is a sin, then how much more the killing of the environment on the ground of ‘jobs and the economy?’
We are in far greater need of Christ for us and us than we know. In any case to live Christ as our life if a far more holistic righteousness than our convenient, partisan and often self-serving legalisms could ever be.
CHRIST YOUR LIFE
In his book The Mediation of Christ, Thomas Torrance writes, “Some people evidently feel that the stress I have laid upon unconditional grace undermines the integrity of the response we are called to make in repentance for sin and in acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour.
“Part of the problem here is that unconditional grace is too costly, for it calls in question all that we are and do, so that even in our repenting and believing we cannot rely upon our own response but only upon the response Christ has offered to the Father in our place and on our behalf.
How the 'I' of the human believer and the 'I' of Christ are related to one another, expressed for example in the Pauline statement, 'I, yet not I but Christ', is a miracle of the Spirit, and is ultimately as inexplicable as the miracle of the Virgin Birth of Jesus which for me is the unique God-given pattern of unconditional grace.”
‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’. John 14.20
A COSY ARRANGEMENT
Torrance notes that the kind of righteousness some of us find attractive is of the kind that does not cover ‘all we are,’ so that something remains of our self-life to do with as we please. A Sabbatarian construct may allow us to contain spirituality and godliness to one day a week so that we feel free to be self-absorbed on the other six. This is the attraction of sacred/secular dichotomies that allow us to involve ourselves in ourselves for life most of life, with sacred times and places given over to God as the remainder. There are attractions in legalism. One can convince oneself of an imagined godliness by going to church, paying a tithe or observing a Sabbath. But we are no more Godly by doing this than we are an athlete as a result of wearing Air Jordan Sneakers. We are Godly when God is us.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory’ Col 3.3,4 NIV.
We are holy because Christ is our life. We become holy because Christ is our life. We inherit eternal life because Christ is our life. Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.