May 232010

What about grace is cheap!

Cheap Grace! I was involved in a discussion recently that was focused on higher behavioral standards for youth. It involved penalties for infractions. I felt impressed to share some thoughts on making sure that when youth make mistakes, we spend as much or more time on redemption than on punishment.  I struggled to keep calm when one individual countered by mentioning the term “cheap grace”. In other words, we can’t be “soft” on crime.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, makes the following powerful statement. “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

Grace is NOT cheap! Grace is horribly costly. Grace is a bloody wrist laid on a huge wooden beam by choice. Grace is the sight of blood shooting in the air as the radial artery is severed. Grace is in the sound of a large nail scraping beteen bones as it is pounded into that beam. Grace is messy. Grace is the gift of salvation given freely and willingly to us. Grace is NOT cheap.  Grace cost the Son of God His life. Grace is defined, not by us, but by the Giver.

Grace. Can’t earn it. Don’t deserve it.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Titus 3:5

Does the gift of grace mean that there are no rules, no law? Of course not. How do we see that we don’t measure up? By comparing ourselves against the the law of God’s love. The law that Jesus summarized as love for God and love for each other.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,  Romans 5:20

God’s answer for sin? The more I sin, the more grace He pours on me.  His gift is not just about buying me back, but about being willing to live in me and change me from the inside out so that I look more and more like His Son.  Yes, my Father loves me too much NOT to correct me when I stray. But when He does, His arms are around me and He never lets me go.

Cheap grace? Cheap gift? In defense of the commenter I reacted to at first, there might be cheap grace. Not from the Giver. His gift of grace is constant and costly. Only we can make it cheap by tossing it aside and not accepting it. Let us relate to each other with loving grace, regardless of how our actions will be received, regardless of whether our love is “deserved” or whether it will be returned. Just like our Father does with each one of us.

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6

shared 5/22/10

  One Response to “Cheap Grace?”

  1. […] as I wait for the sun to rise, I stand in shock and awe at the scandalous, reckless grace gift that saves me. And I am amazed at the secret of grace that I keep forgetting- when I value the […]

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