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Unmerited Favour in the Face of Ignorant Arrogance

March 31, 2014

 “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities”  Psalm 103:10

Grace is powerful. It can do what brute force, fear and intimidation attempt, but never achieve: it can change people. It goes beyond the superficial, beyond mere behavioural modification. The remodelling and shaping of hearts is a skill  wielded only by grace.

Mark 10 speaks volumes on the grace and humility of the god-man Jesus Christ, in verses 17-31. A rich young ruler approaches Jesus with a fervent enthusiasm, asking Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. He senses that this teacher has insight and hopes in his heart that Jesus can fill the hole in his life. However, Jesus’ answer is not revolutionary. Far from it, He simply points to the Ten Commandments. And the rich young ruler boldly declares ““Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth”

This is humanity in microcosm – complete spiritual blindness. The ruler, in essence, boasts in his perfection. “Jesus, I’m faithful! Look at how good I am, look at all I’ve done.” In the next chapter, Jesus will foretell His death, His selfless act of love that will blaze throughout history. Promised by God, foretold by the prophets, awaited by God’s children, rejoiced in by saints throughout the ages. And the rich young ruler has the audacity to look Jesus square in the eyes and sneer “Oh, its grand. I’ve got this. Don’t worry about it. The sinners, yeah they might need that but I’ve actually done the legwork”. But what’s even more staggering is the King’s response

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him”

Wow.

God incarnate, the creator of all things, whose image is weaved into every melody, every stanza, every golden leaf, every beautiful smile, whose creative prowess filters through in both the colossal expanses of galaxies unknown and the first sip of freshly brewed coffee at the break of day, this Jesus has been offended by a man who breathes only by His expressed permission. And he looks at him and loves him. When Jesus exposes the man’s love of money, He does not relish the revelation of his idol, his true god. The holy righteous Judge of the earth is grieved that this man has traded the all-satisfying beauty of eternal joy for the cheap prostitute of watered-down, short-lived happiness. Jesus is gracious. Jesus is Lord. Our God is a fountain of mercy and undeserved love.

Only the power of the gospel can reveal to me that I am just as ignorant as this man. Just as quick to forget the Giver when He has lavished so many gifts upon me. Just as hard hearted, and more arrogant.  Only God can embrace me as an adopted son and change that heart to make me more like His true Son. Only by grace.

Grace is powerful because while it is free to receive, it costs dearly. My restoration comes at the price of Jesus’ destruction. My acceptance comes at the price of Jesus’ rejection. For me to become holy and blameless in His sight, Jesus must become ugly and sinful.

Meditating on that changes me because it takes away the fear of condemnation. I am free to confess that though my life is to be lived as a pleasing offering to my God, I am constantly climbing off the altar. I’m free to be honest that I am self-centred, consumed by my own daydreams and manipulate God and those around me. Because when I do that, I am reminded that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus”. God has invested too much in my salvation to give up on me. He’s love. I’m forgetful, but He is faithful in reminding me.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jack

 

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