Grace Isn't a Spreadsheet

by Pastor Jeremy
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9
Grace messes with our neat and tidy equations and categories. Here's what I mean—Think about who wrote the above verses. It was the Apostle Paul. Now, if you've been in the church for awhile we think of Paul as the influential writer who contributed most of the New Testament letters. We think of the great missionary who took the gospel message to others no matter what the cost. We think of the church planter who poured his heart out for people. Yet, remember who Paul was before he was confronted by the grace of Jesus (Acts 9:3-6). To put it bluntly, Paul was like the Osama Bin Laden of his day (Acts 8:1). He was a religious fanatic who was persecuting and stoning Christians to death (Acts 7:58). Of course he had his religious reasons, but he was wrong. He was hurtful. He was terrorizing innocent families.

So, when Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus, what would you expect Jesus to do? If we consulted our spreadsheets, the sum of the equation probably wouldn't be to forgive him and enlist him as one of the key leaders of the church. But that's the mystery and wonder of God’s grace. God takes the most unlikely people, saves them, and then lifts them up. And we think, "Wait! What?!"

Thank God that we don't get to choose who receives redemption because we're too often filled with so much anger and bitterness about people’s pasts to give them the freedom of a brand new future. But not Jesus. Jesus made it a point to reclaim the men and women whom many wanted nothing to do with. We're not told much of Jesus’ childhood, but you can’t help but think of the kids on the playground who didn't fit in whom Jesus befriended and transformed by His love. After all, Jesus didn't fit in. He was ridiculed over and over for lifting people out of their bondage and giving them hope. Jesus didn’t fit in with the religious spreadsheets of his day. His amazing grace overturned them. I think it still does.

God, help me to remember and reflect your attitude of grace wherever I go today. Break me out of my limiting rows and columns and help me to receive and to extend your amazing grace to others. Amen.
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