Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not situational, but positional

At times, people can tell some pretty tall tales - those "fish stories" of sorts which wrap you up in all the intrigue the storyteller can muster.  It is kind of harmless unless this becomes the way they live life - as "storytellers" and not ever being very genuine or real in their sharing of themselves.  Have you ever had to convince someone that what you said was true?  I think we may all have at times - simply because what we are saying is just too "out there" for them to believe at face value.  Whether it be trying to convince someone the spider you had to "corral" in your kitchen was actually as big as you said it was, or that the meat was so tender you could cut it with your fork when you experienced that new dining establishment, you go about "truth-telling" in a variety of different ways.  The hearer of your message has one of two options - to either believe it at face-value or question/reject it for some "unrealistic" point which you have made.  What determines whether something is "realistic" or "unrealistic" may very well be the "experience" of the other person.  If they have never seen an Arizona desert wolf spider, they won't ever believe you when you tell them it was the size of a tarantula!  If they haven't ever experienced the awesomeness of a tender filet cooked to perfection, they won't appreciate that a fork could ever pass through steak like a knife through butter.  Experience often sets the framework by which our minds can "interpret" and "believe" or "accept" certain facts which come our way.  This may not be all that important when it comes to considering the size of the spider you had to muster all that courage to kill when faced off in the kitchen that day, but it gets a whole lot more important when you are trying to tell someone how big God's grace really is!


We believe people when they say something is true. But what God says is more important. And this is what God told us: He told us the truth about his own Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the truth that God told us. But people who do not believe God make God a liar, because they do not believe what God told us about his Son. This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (I John 5:9-12 ERV)


Grace is huge and vastly different than the way man faces issues in life.  We want to hold people "accountable" and make them "pay" for their offensive behaviors.  This is kind of the way we are about matters which give us painful experiences.  Hit your thumb with a hammer and see if you appreciate the hammer too much at that moment!  You probably want to throw it across the yard and make the drill your new best friend!  Why?  It "hurt" you and you didn't like the experience.  It formed a pretty "brutal" memory in your mind of what hammers "do" to you.  That blackened thumbnail and bruise forming just act as constant reminders of the pain that hammer caused.  Now, isn't it amazing to us that we totally forget who had the hammer in their other hand when this incident occurred?  It is as though we want to put all the blame on the hammer for missing the nail and coming down on our thumb when WE were the ones wielding it in the first place!  Silly us - the hammer didn't do it - it was just an instrument in the chain of events and we attached a certain blame on that instrument because this is what we do - we are blame-shifters!  The thumb will heal, but there will be a memory of the event which lives within our memory for a long, long time.  We will be wary of hammers because of that experience.  In life, we often treat others in quite the same way - forming memories from one experience and then believing that it the way ALL of the interactions will go from that point forward.  Good or bad - we base our "judgment" of the "truth" we can count on in that relationship based on the experience we form the most "meaningful" memory around.

When God tells us his Son is the means by which we receive eternal life and within the "actions" of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection are the foundation of grace, we can either believe this truth or reject it.  Often, the basis of whether we will believe or reject this truth is squarely based on our life experiences with "human beings", not God.  We come to understand "grace" by the actions of another human being, not because of what God modeled for us in his Son's sacrifice on our behalf.  We have a "flawed" perception of grace based on "experiencing" a little bit of forgiveness (a thing not "held against us") by another human being.  Have you ever noticed how "limited" a human's "grace" is, though? Cross some imaginary line and their "grace-extender" just dries up! Based on their experiences, they have formed this "line" whereby they say "enough" and stop extending that grace.  It can be different based on "who" you are within the relationship with that individual - a child may get a little more grace than an adult who fibs the first time, because there is a lesson to be "taught" and "learned" for the child which we somehow expect to already have been "learned" by the adult.  It is kind of like we humans have a tendency to understand grace as "situational".  If the situation is right, we extend grace!

Unlike we humans, God's grace isn't situational - it is "positional".  When we are positioned to receive grace, we will receive it - regardless of how or where or when we "screw up".  How are we positioned to receive grace?  By being in relationship with Jesus.  This is the "position" of grace.  If we read the entirety of scripture, we see the threads of grace woven into the many stories recorded for our "learning", but we also see this importance of understanding it is more than "seeking" grace - it is entering into relationship with the one who is grace embodied which places us "positionally" inside grace's expanse.  When we study God's grace, there are "themes" which emerge - such as grace being something we cannot earn, but it is a gift from the one who gave his life so we could experience grace in its fullness.  We also see this theme of "being in Christ" and being "made a new person" - something not well appreciated when all we have known is the "situational" forgiveness of humans who hold onto past actions and think it impossible for a "zebra to change its stripes".  As we come into relationship with Christ, there is a continual exchange of our "wrong actions" with his full "grace".  Grace isn't a one-time thing, nor is it "conditioned" upon the "degree" of the offense for which one seeks grace (forgiveness).  Based upon our 'position' IN CHRIST, we are 'positioned' to receive grace - not because the 'situation' allowed for grace to be extended but because the 'position' of our trust was squarely based in the past and present actions of Christ on our behalf to secure that grace for us.  Just sayin!