The glorious inequity of grace

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  – Luke 6:35

th-2If you want to get a little taste of what God is like, try loving your enemies, lending money to those you know won’t pay you back, and then try being kind to ungrateful and wicked people. What does this do to one’s sense of justice and fairness? What could this possibly be about? Jesus can’t be serious about this, can He?

Here’s what I think. I think Jesus is getting us to think this way because He wants us to see something important about ourselves.

After all, what are we thinking here … that we are God’s friends, that we always pay back what we borrow, and that we are most certainly grateful and holy, and that’s why it’s so hard for us to understand why God would ask us, the holy ones, to be kind to all these wicked and ungrateful folks? Gee, somehow we’re going to have to find it in ourselves to love these awful people, but I suppose that if God can do it, we can too. It will be a stretch, but we will try… Is that what this is about?

Hardly. Here’s what I think it means:

There is relatively little difference between the most ungrateful, wicked people I can think of and me, and I had better be deeply grateful that God is, in fact, “unfair” in this way, because otherwise there would be no hope for me. I know this is what Jesus is saying because the very next verse is: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful [to you].” And that is followed up with: “Do not judge and you will not be judged.” See where He’s going with this?

When you look at it this way, it changes the whole picture.

Love your enemies and be kind to those who, like you, have received the kindness of God when you don’t deserve it. And if you are ever tempted to think of God as being unfair, then go all the way and rejoice in the glorious inequity of grace that has made unlikely room for you and me, and in that same spirit of “unfairness,” make room in your heart for others.

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4 Responses to The glorious inequity of grace

  1. Olen Jones says:

    YES! YES! YES!!

  2. Lynn says:

    Hey John. In my twenties I used to get annoyed whenever I got “ripped off” by a scam marketer, or charged too much at a store, or otherwise cheated of money. I am sensitive to injustice (toward anyone), and, in my case, I didn’t have much in terms of financial resources and I was trying to be a good steward. After awhile, I realized that there’s no way, no matter how vigilant I am, that I’m not ever going to get ripped off again. And, in fact, there have been other times when some might point out that I got a better deal than I deserved. Perhaps this doesn’t sound related to what you wrote, but it is to me. I think it’s about common grace, which is like rain, falling on both the wicked and the unwicked (as it says in Scripture). I could accuse God of being sloppy, but I’m pretty sure there’s actually a lot more going on in the details than I will ever be able to fathom in this lifetime. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  3. TimC says:

    This is really, really hard. It’s hard to forgive the people who have stabbed me in the back – let alone love them and pray for them – while I’m still lying beside the road beaten, bruised, and robbed.

  4. praise4ever says:

    Hi, John.
    My husband of 36 years, Travis, has been a Minister of Worship for 32 of those years. We used to read your articles at the back of CCM magazine and especially loved your Dark Horse album. (My faves: “Roses on Wednesday” and the hungry beggar song) Anyway, it’s great to find your blog. I will share this post on our church facebook page. Here’s a link to a page from our blog that is also about grace: http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/grace-notes/

    Blessings to you,

    Cindy and Travis Boyd

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