February 1, 2012

Trying to make ourselves clean

I'm listening to part 1 of Tullian Tchividjian's sermon series Pictures of Grace. He is so refreshing. I made a post about Passover a few days ago, regarding some news I heard. The particular situation that sparked that post has not been resolved, and I don't know if it ever will be. My heart is grieved. And I don't know which side is right in this case. Regardless they are in my prayers.

But in listening to Tullian, I am reminded of how much grace and forgiveness is needed in these situations by all parties. In some cases one side has to put their neck out first and basically let the other chop it off, or allow themselves to be spit on, and stop fighting back, for it to be demonstrated as real.

I transcribed a bit from Tullian's message. He is speaking from the passage(s) where Jesus is anointed by the sinful woman. At about 40 minutes in, give or take, Tullian says:

God is amazingly gracious and when Jesus says here He who has been forgiven much loves much, he's not saying that there are those who only need little forgiveness and those who need big forgiveness and those who get big forgiveness give big love, he is saying if you really knew your heart the way I know your heart, you'd know just how much forgiveness you need and that you need just as much as she does. That you're no better off. He's saying 'big forgiveness equals big love. Small forgiveness = small love.' he's saying we're all big sinners needing big saving and it's only when we come to grips with the fact that no matter how good we are, we're no better than the worst of sinners, that we begin to revel in God's grace and it becomes our functional lifeline.

I love this quote by Gerhardt Forde who is a now deceased Lutheran theologian. He says "our misdeeds are not the real root of the problem. They are just what the tradition called 'actual sins.' There is a much more serious problem. What the tradition calls 'original sin.' It is much more subtle and inevitably hidden from us. The relationship with God is broken by the presumption of our ethical behavior, our morality, our good deeds, our insistence on doing it ourselves and getting clean. The relationship is broken because these too, turn us, quite simply, against grace, and the almighty God desires simply to be known as the giver of the gift of absolute grace. And to this we say 'no' we say rather that we intend to make it on our own, that grace is too cheap.' When we do that, because we're proud of our goodness and our morality actually gets in the way, then the relationship is destroyed just as surely as it was by our immorality."

"it's when I am at my worst that God's grace amazes me the most. "