Friday, January 15, 2010

Cheap Grace

“You know the school board isn’t as careful as they should be.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you know Becky* and how she was kicked out last year?”

“Well I heard that she’s coming back. After all the fuss the board put up about making her leave, and now just because she wrote a letter and threw a few Bible verses in it, they’re letting her back in.”

I heard that conversation sometime during my sophomore year of high school. I do not remember who I heard it from, or why I took it to be true, but I did. Later on I was involved in another similar conversation and I felt informed as I voiced what I’d heard.

It was at a restaurant with my friends we were finishing our food as we discussed a few of the students who had been asked to leave our school and about them returning next year.

“Well,” I piped up. “All they’ll have to do to come back is write a letter and throw in a few Bible verses and the board will accept them back in.”

Some of my friends nodded and looked like they agreed.

“That’s not true,” Mr. Johnson*, a father to one of my friends and a board member, began. “The board goes through a lot of consideration as they choose to reaccept a student.”

I felt frustrated because I felt that my information proved to be more accurate because the students who were kicked out were always accepted back in. If we were a Christian institute and had standards to uphold how could we be so cheap with grace?

Looking back now I feel like Simon looking down on the sinful woman as she anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume.

Luke chapter seven tells this story,

36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Desire of Ages p. 567-568 speaks volumes to my heart as I remember those haughty words and thoughts I spoke that evening.

“Simon's coldness and neglect toward the Saviour showed how little he appreciated the mercy he had received. He had thought he honored Jesus by inviting Him to his house. But he now saw himself as he really was. While he thought himself reading his Guest, his Guest had been reading him. He saw how true Christ's judgment of him was. His religion had been a robe of Pharisaism. He had despised the compassion of Jesus. He had not recognized Him as the representative of God. While Mary was a sinner pardoned, he was a sinner unpardoned. The rigid rule of justice he had desired to enforce against her condemned him.

Simon was touched by the kindness of Jesus in not openly rebuking him before the guests. He had not been treated as he desired Mary to be treated. He saw that Jesus did not wish to expose his guilt to others, but sought by a true statement of the case to convince his mind, and by pitying kindness to subdue his heart. Stern denunciation would have hardened Simon against repentance, but patient admonition convinced him of his error. He saw the magnitude of the debt which he owed his Lord. His pride was humbled, he repented, and the proud Pharisee became a lowly, self-sacrificing disciple.”

I was Simon. Only inviting Jesus into my house. Letting others see that I was a Christian, but He did not dwell in me, and I did not see my own sinfulness and I should have. I wore the Pharisee robes and prayed head held high. In about a year I would learn the cry of the sinner and realize my own forsakenness. I would behold the magnitude of my debt and learn that grace is never cheap when you beg for it yourself.

By: Beth-Anne
*Names have been changed