Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Limits of Grace?

One of my personal goals for before the semester begins is to finish reading Phillip Yancey´s book What´s so Amazing about Grace? I´m trying to read one chapter a night as part of my devotionals…and last night´s chapter was…how shall I put it…well, challenging. It was a chapter called something like, “Grace-Healed Eyes.” I read it with great attention, but I can´t deny it made me truly uncomfortable. The chapter was about how to extend grace to people who are “different.”

When I finished the chapter and put the book down on my night table I have to admit that I had a feeling of uneasiness which I had trouble shaking off. What was God, if anything, trying to tell me through Yancey´s words and stories? Am I really supposed to offer grace to the greatest of sinners? Is Grace really that big that can cover even the darkest and deepest of sins? Or does Grace have limits?

That was the question that got me. “Does Grace have limitations?” God used that one thought to point out that I don’t really know what Grace is. It took only that one thought, for the Holy Spirit to show me that what I thought of as Grace was nothing more than a self-constructed, a Gisela-made notion that is incomplete, vague and totally wrong. My limiting view of the truth of Grace didn’t permit me to comprehend the fact that Grace covers it all...not just the deepest and darkest sins of those trapped in the pit on the other side of the pages of a book, but the deepest and darkest sins of me.

The humility that comes with the realization that Jesus’ sacrifice spilled out the miracle of Grace which washes me clean is the only way I can understand that any limitations I may perceive in the ability of Grace to clean it all are imposed by my own inability to see how much it has already cleaned in my own existence. Only when I underestimate the amount of garbage that Grace has disposed of in my life I can impose boundaries to the power of Grace.

Even though sin is never to be tolerated, I cannot withdraw love from the sinner. After all, if I profess to be a follower of Christ, I need to remember that He gave it all for us…even me…a great one among sinners. He came to rescue the fallen. His precious blood was needed because that is the only thing that can wipe off the stains of all of us who wander the pain-filled alleys of this world. Jesus is the friend of sinners precisely because we are the ones who need the balm of His healing presence. He is the friend of sinners because He loves us and in His love He wants to do what Only He can do: break us free from the grip of sin as He rescues our souls.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to challenge me to love as God wants me to love and to understand that as God is Limitless so is His Grace. It is God’s sovereign prerogative to apply it generously to all He chooses. And it is my calling to extend it freely as He moves me.

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