Archives For grace

The Weight of Being Undeserved

Chris —  September 14, 2011

This past Sunday at Vox Veniae, Gideon Tsang shared about where we get our name, Voice of Grace.  He talked about how Grace means to receive something you don’t deserve.

Sunday afternoon I was handed a box containing a small electonic device that had been shipped to me.  It was a gift, from a person or group of people I may not ever fully identify.  I had jokingly asked for it on Twitter, and here it was.  Immediately, I felt an immense weight on me, something had been given which I would never be able to repay.

The feeling is reminscent of guilt.  You know something is wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Unlike guilt, there is no shame.  You don’t feel bad, but you could easily begin to weep about it.  It’s like the beauty of an overwhelming sunset or watching a baby laugh.  It is amazing, but very, very heavy.

It seems to me that Gideon’s point is that the church is to live with the weight of grace constantly on us.  We didn’t ask for birth or breath.  We didn’t ask to be affluent Americans.  We didn’t ask for Jesus.

This, to me, is the great apolegetic.  Religion and science can constantly strive to explain where we came from and how stuff works.  But they don’t explain why any of it is here in in the first place.

Life is, at it’s core, undeniably undeserved.

Grace is Exhausting

Chris —  August 30, 2011

For a long time I thought being a “good Christian” meant two things:

1. Don’t do certain bad things.

2. Don’t hang out with people who do said bad things.

At some point two things occurred to me:

1.  I will regularly do bad things.

2.  If I’m going to be like Jesus, I will regularly spend time with people who do things I don’t.

In many ways, these revelations were freeing.  It allowed me to relax a little, and embrace the forgiveness God promises.  It also means that my circle of friends has increased from people who are just like me to include people from different races, political parties, churches and sexual orientations.

I’ve learned a lot from this more graceful stance, and rather than fill a book with what I’ve learned, I point you to the words of Henri Nouwen.

But to be totally honest, it’s a bit exhausting.

Giving grace to yourself requires that you are conscious of when you fail to live up to your standards.  It also means that you regularly take time to ask God for forgiveness for your failures.  Just taking time to recognize those is exhausting.

Giving grace to others requires constantly staring at and listening to things you might not like.  It forces you to think outside the box and question why you do what you do.  It gives you far less opportunities to argue for your way.  Like anything that makes you stronger, it tears you up a bit first.

Although grace is exhausting, hope is enlivening.  This has altered how I look at the time I spend gathered with my church community.  Whether it’s liturgy or cooking dinner or going for a ride or hitting up happy hour we are brought together by a common hope. We rest in our hope that we are forgiven.  We rest in the humility that it is God, not us who will sort out the good and the bad.  We rest in our hope that history is headed somewhere.

We rest because we trust that no matter how exhausting grace is, it’s worth it.