Today, not only am I going to give you TWO illustrations, I’m going to follow up on the topic I discussed in my last post.
“Grace” means we get the salvation that we don’t deserve – for free, we don’t have to do anything to get it. A friend recently posed a thought to me, “Don’t you think God makes salvation too easy?” In essence, if we had to work at it a little more, don’t you think followers of Jesus would take their salvation more seriously? Let me illustrate this kind of grace by telling you about my cousin Gregory, whom I admire deeply.
In the late 1960s, Gregory walked into a barber shop and said to the barber, “Sir, I don’t have enough money to pay for a haircut right now, but if you’ll let me work in your shop, sweeping up hair or whatever, until I have earned enough to pay for a cut, I’d really appreciate it.” The old barber looked at him and motioned for him to sit down in a chair. “Any young man who actually wants a haircut these days can have one. It’s on me.”
That’s grace. Gregory didn’t ask for anything for free, but the one who in charge of haircuts offered it for free – no work to be done before or after. All Gregory had to do was sit in the chair and receive what the barber offered him. Easy Peasy. Let’s catch a word from our Sponsor:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
For followers of Jesus, salvation is free. Oh, it cost plenty! A sinless Jesus, who was pronounced innocent by the highest legal authority, was crucified – an extraordinarily cruel, painful, and humiliating death between two pirates. But it’s free to us and sometimes we treat free stuff (“you get what you pay for”) with disregard. I once recommended a teenage Christian rocker rename his band “Abusers of His Grace” – because that’s what we do. We abuse the free gift God gave us. He saved us from the consequences of sin, but all too often, we take that salvation from sin as a license to sin. Follower of Jesus, are you an Abuser of His Grace?
There’s no quick cure for this. The Holy Spirit works in our lives (see John 16) to draw us away from sin and move us toward righteousness. It’s a life-long process and it’s never complete. (If you know a perfect person, please point them out to me.) For me, a major step toward desiring not to abuse God’s grace was to see sin the way God sees it. Every sin is a hammer-strike driving a nail into Jesus’ hands. It’s a thorn digging into His brow. It’s a rivulet of salty sweat running down into a back lashed open with 39 strikes from a metal-tipped whip. Every sin – past, present, and future – caused a mother to watch her innocent son tortured and killed. You think your white lie, your gossip, your moment of lust, your anger, your pride… you think it’s no big deal? Follower of Jesus, stand by Mary at the cross and tell her, “No biggie, I’m saved.”
Catch a load of this piece of junk pictured on the right. I can call it junk, I’m not the insurance company that covered this “work of art” for $1,081,644 only to have it accidentally “cleaned up” by a janitor – ruining the art installation. (Read the full story.) You see, the artist intended the sculpture to look like a bucket that had caught rainwater which had leaked from the ceiling and subsequently dried in the black tub below. Talk about “shabby chic”. The janitor thought it was a mess that needed to be cleaned up – that was her job!
You know where I’m going with this, right? God wanted to clean us up, He sent His Son to do the dirty work. But we, followers of Jesus, often times find it fashionable, even preferable, to keep on looking like the trashy world we are supposed to be saved from. Make sense to you? Me neither, but it’s the story of my life. Like I said, there’s no quick fix, but if you are serious about following Jesus, you will make progress. Bookmark this post and the one from Feb 20. Mull all this over for a while. Make a note on your calendar to come back and read these two posts and see if you’re making progress on your own or if you need to cry out to God begging for help getting cleaned up. He’s like a barber I know, He’s always eager to help someone who really wants help.
Clark H Smith