It isn’t always easy to tell the good guys from the bad in the bible. David was a man after God’s own heart. Yet the guy was a real jerk. He arranged for a man to be murdered to cover up his adulterous relationship with the man’s wife (2 Samuel 11).
And how about Jacob? Here was a mama’s boy who lied and cheated to get what wasn’t legally his(Genesis 27). And what happens when the Lord finds the crook asleep and alone? Does He take the opportunity to punish him for his sins? No. Instead, God gives him a special theophany, reassuring Jacob of His presence. What is even more ludicrous, God also takes the opportunity to give Jacob promises of overwhelming blessings (Genesis 28: 10-22).
What kind of God is this? A God of grace.
However you define this ‘grace’ thing, it is very difficult to accept. Those who see themselves as not fallen don’t think they need it, well, not really. And those who know they have fallen find it so hard to accept grace. They keep thinking there must be a catch somewhere. But there it is, perhaps the one unique element in the Christian faith-the scandal of grace. It is the crazy notion that God doesn’t treat us as we deserve but chooses to forgive us and bless us through the horrendous personal sacrifice of the Cross.
Hard to tell the bad guys from the good? Perhaps Paul’s progression in his self consciousness may help us to clear up the confusion.
In his early letters, Paul is conscious of himself as “the least of the apostles” ( 1 Corinthians 15: 9). He know he is not that hot but he still sees himself as an apostle. In his later letters, he now knows himself as “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). His overwhelming realization now is that he is a sinner saved by grace.
It would appear that if we truly walk with God, we find ourselves losing our illusions about our self righteousness. Or as one church father puts it, the nearer we get to the Light, the clearer our own shadows are revealed. It is another paradox in the Christian faith. The ones who are truly righteous are the ones most conscious of how far they are from God’s standards. Those who think they are all right probably still have some ways to go.
Can’t tell the good guys from the bad? Not surprising. End of the day we are all bad guys.
“For all have sinned; all fall short of God”s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). The sooner we embrace this the sooner we will truly know grace.
Woke up this morning? The Holy God didn’t wipe you out in your sleep? Thank God for His grace. Pass it on.