Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We all have so much we can be thankful for, and I’m thankful I can blog in order to explore ideas and thoughts with my readers. Thanks for reading what I post! Today I want to finish thinking through our misunderstandings of God’s grace.
Let’s be very clear – our God does not “do” enabling. Enabling comes nowhere close to describing the fullness of God’s love for us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer classified this understanding of God’s love as “cheap grace.” He wrote, “ Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. ‘Grace alone does everything’ they say, and ‘so everything can remain as it was before’.”2 If a person has said “yes” to Jesus’ offer of new life because they’ve concluded their life could no longer “remain as it was before,” it makes no sense to ever think their life can just “remain as it was before.” It’s complete nonsense to think Jesus would come to rescue us from our self-destruction only to leave us in the same condition of self-destruction we were in when He first came to our rescue. What kind of rescuer would leave the one they’ve rescued in the exact same predicament that required their rescue?
Yes, God loves us just the way we are, and his grace has met us just as we are wherever we are, but not simply to declare we’re fine just the way we are. God’s extended His grace in order to rescue us, and lead us into an entirely different life experience. The theologian Augustus H. Strong illustrated this truth using the picture of a steamship in need of repairs. Long ago he wrote, “A steamship whose machinery is broken may be brought into port and made fast to the dock. She is safe, but not sound. Repairs may last a long time. Christ designs to make us both safe and sound. Justification gives the first – safety; sanctification gives the second – soundness.”3 In other words, God’s mercifully set us free from our deserved condemnation for the purpose of graciously walking us, talking us, and coaching us into a life that is abundant, full, and healthy.