Month: November 2010

Justice and grace

Last week a trailer was released for the upcoming film ‘The Grace Card’. It seems to be a ‘Christian’ film, but many things about it leave me far from convinced that it will accurately portray the Christian gospel. The worst of all was a line in the trailer which sounded like a pivotal moment in the film.

It’s not justice we need. It’s grace!It's not justice we need. It's grace!

What a horrible false dichotomy is introduced here! Are justice and grace mutually exclusive? This seems to be the suggestion of the film. I don’t want to be too harsh, given I’ve merely seen a trailer rather than the full film, but it strikes me that this quote undermines all that is good about the God of the Bible.

God doesn’t abandon justice in favour of grace. This would be a cheap form of grace, which would reveal an arbitrary and unjust god. This is not the God of the Bible. This is not the Christian God. Quite the opposite.

God does extend grace through Jesus’ death, but not at the expense of justice. If there was no need for justice, why would Jesus have died? Why not simply forgive everyone all their sins? That would show grace; but what a terrible, grotesque, unjust grace it would be! This is not the grace referred to in Ephesians 2:8, quoted in the NIV at the end of the film trailer.

For it is by grace you have been saved.

The grace by which Christians have been saved is a grace which includes justice. Romans 3:26 speaks of God not only as the justifier (by grace) of the one with faith in Jesus, but also the one who is just. The reason for Jesus’ death was to provide a means of grace which did not contravene God’s perfect justice.

It is indeed grace we need, but we also receive justice from God. Praise the Lord!

The totality of love

I’ve been in Bournemouth for a week so this week’s blog post will just be a short quote.

God has thoughts of love in all He does to His people. The ground of His dealings with us is love (though the occasion may be sin), the manner of His dealings is love, and the purpose of His dealings is love.

That’s a good thought to meditate on and chew over. Sorry I can’t remember where I first came across this. If you’re interested I’m sure google will help you out.

I broke the plate!

One thing I’m finding out about Relay is that it’s tough. I think that’s one of the blessings of it. I was speaking the other week to someone who was struggling to cope with everything on their plate, and it really resonated because I was in exactly the same situation. I’d wasted a lot of time that week, and wasn’t feeling close to God. I was feeling overwhelmed by my workload, and I stopped looking at God and started looking at myself. I could have used the gospel to rebuke myself, but I didn’t.

Then a friend got in touch.

It’s always easier to rebuke other people.

But this rebuke hit me as hard as it hit him.

We were talking about how much we each had on our metaphorical plates, and my friend commented he didn’t have the strength to cope with such a big plate. He felt he not only had too much on his plate, but that he broke the plate, so hopeless was his situation. He couldn’t cope. There was really only one thing to say. He was correct.

Stop trying to be able to cope. You can’t cope! You know that! Give up the natural pride that wants to be able to cope with all the things you’ve taken on, and throw yourself on God’s mercy!

When we feel overwhelmed it is because we are weak. It is pride to deny this truth. We are weak beings. We cannot cope with life at the best of times. We broke the plate. This is why I love the lesson God teaches the apostle Paul when he asks for deliverance from weakness.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

God doesn’t give some feel-good message affirming inner strength. Neither does He reduce Paul’s load. As He addresses Paul God implicitly affirms both the weakness and the inability of each and every person on the planet. But the Christian, though weak, is strong, because God gives us grace which is sufficient to overcome our weakness. More than that, the weakness actually glorifies God as His strength is seen more clearly by the sharp contrast!

We can’t cope with life. There is always too much on our plates, and sometimes we feel like we’ve broken the plate. But God’s grace is sufficient. All we can do is cast ourselves on it.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness.

Psalm 51:1

The thirteenth verse

Check it out, the thirteenth verse of Exodus chapters 6-15 (excluding chapter 11, which only has ten verses):

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a command for the children of Israel and for Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,

So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.

You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.

I’d consider that a fair little summary of events!