17 July, 2004

What's So Amazing About Grace?

I finished this book last Sunday while in Creste Butte. It is an amazing book. In it Phillip Yancey tries to unpack this amazing gift we have been given but are afraid to use. We try to still impress God, or work for His favor, never accepting that we will never be able to attain anything that way.
Using the same form as Paul's letters - he opens the book very easily, discussing grace and all that it could be. Through stories, experiences and wisdom he reveals the true meaning of grace. In the middle Yancey goes into the problem of our perception of grace - we try to earn it, or refuse to acknowledge it - and ultimately refuse to extend it to other people. The church, for the most part, has missed this fact. We do not extend grace to those who need it most, the hurting, the conflicted - those we see as different.
In one chapter Yancey brought up AA - which meets in the basement of his church. The people who attend AA are so open about what they are going through because you cannot pretend there. Even if you haven't had a drink in 24 years you still have to say "Hi I'm Joe and I'm an alcoholic" - and so everyone is equal. No one is or can pretend to be better, because they are all there for the same reason. But the church is different. We all have our problems - lust, greed, divorce, hatred, abortion - but we refuse to admit it. We don't come to church open, being willing to struggle and give/receive grace; instead we come to judge, longing to be filled- only acknowledging the people beside us because we are told to... Gossip spreads more quickly through church than grace does. He opened the book with a story. He asked a former prostitute if she wanted to go to church and she answered in the way of - "why would I want to go there, they only make me feel worse about myself than I already do." That is not grace to me!
I opened this book because of a class I am taking this fall, I finished it because it was hard truth, spoken in love, that many need to hear. He was not afraid to say what needed to be said. Yancey was willing to be honest about his own struggles with grace and the pain he feels because we don't get it...
What's so amazing about grace? It comes to all, regardless of who you are - if you only believe...

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