Wednesday, July 21, 2010

redefining grace

i didn't fall off the planet, i've just started a truck-load of drafts that i never seem to finish writing.  this, for example, was started in April 2010.  cheers.


you do the work, you get your wages.
you do the math, you get the answer.
you pay the price, you get the product.

and if you don't do the aforementioned conditions, you don't deserve the results.

fortunately, none of the above are rules.  they are theories, but they're very breakable.

if we're the hard workers, we like the thought of getting what we deserve.  and we grumble about those who enjoy the pleasures they've done nothing to earn.  because it's not fair, right?  why should they be eating the fruit of our labor?  i do all the work, they do none, and we split the reward?  where's HR!  or someone to audit this business!  growl!

in matthew 20:1-16, a landowner hires workers at different times of the day, morning, noon, evening.  they all finish at the same time, i.e, some worked much longer hours than others.  and they all get the same pay.  WHAT.  yeah.  exactly.

But [the landowner] answered one of them, "Friend, I am not being unfair to you.  Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave to you.  Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are you envious because I am generous?"  So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
- Matthew 20:13-16

"Are you envious because I am generous?"  ouch.
i am no theologian, but i imagine heaven.  and we're all getting that reward of the lovely encounter with Christ, regardless of when we got "saved."  it doesn't seem like the nature of God to say, "person A: you have been a Christian, following all the rules since you were in your mama's belly.  you get to enjoy 100% of heaven!  and person B: you got saved on your deathbed, so you get to enjoy -ehh- maybe 0.01% of heaven."

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 
- Ephesians 2:6-9

maybe it seems so basic to talk about grace in the likes of salvation, but the reason i do this is because of the true difficulty of grace.  "they haven't said sorry."  "they didn't put as much work into it as i have."  "they haven't treated me right."  "they use and abuse me."  they don't deserve anything!  

my life's honest context: i chose to extend a sacrifice of patient love that left me sore.  "this person treats me like dirt, this person deserves dirt."  yet, each time i'd become resolute in my fair trade organization, God would tell me, "Go back.  Love more."  and i would get the same generic appreciation, if not "less," than others who did nothing but kiss a*.  sorry.  it was so unfair.  it kind of felt like the lottery, and i detest gambling.  it was as if i worked endlessly and gained nothing, and this person did nothing and received bountifully.

written March 23, 2009 (Journey).

We like incentive from God. We like incentive from anybody. We like giving if it involves - receiving. Some of this mentality has been perpetuated by the independence of our age, that has taught us about "sowing and reaping." We learned that we earn what we have worked for, and therefore, work to earn. It's a cycle that has its place, but which we have unfortunately abused and sprinkled with selfishness.

i'm learning to love without incentive, without the hope of an incentive, without false hope.  i'm remembering my Kingdom inheritance and all the unseen and eternal promises which i've never had to work for, but will enjoy forever... i'm learning to love for the sake of love, to give grace for the sake of grace - and never for the sake of reciprocation, which is a premise likely to fail.  i'm learning to give freely, to give willingly, to give joyfully.  and i'm realizing that whatever love i have to offer ought not to be reserved for the ones who already love me, but especially for those who love me the least...
i am learning to re-define grace.


currently listening: the sound of heavy rain
currently reading: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel and Psalm 46