Summary: What is grace? And who is it evidenced in our lives.
Grace, More Than a Girl’s Name
When I had been a Christ follower for a few days my best friends brother asked me what my favorite song was, I wasn’t sure exactly what answer he was looking for but considering he was a pastor I figured that “We’re Here for a Good Time” by Trooper wasn’t the right answer, and so I said “Amazing Grace”. Now to be truthful I’m not even sure if I could have hummed the tune or quoted any of the words but it was the only “Christian” song that I could think of on the spur of the moment.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.” It is probably the most recognized tune in the Church. In July of 2010 Darlene Zschech led a group of 18,000 worshippers in the Philippines in singing Amazing Grace in 60 different languages. And apparently it is the only song that sounds good on bag pipes.
Not only is Amazing Grace the most loved song in the Christian Church but Amazing Grace is indeed the defining doctrine of the Christian Church. But what is grace? Before I became a follower of Jesus Grace was either the name of the lady who lived down the road from us, or was what we said before we ate at my grandmother’s house. Neither of which was relevant to me. But Grace is more than a girl’s name and it’s more than the obligatory prayer whispered before a meal when you have the pastor over for supper.
So, what is grace? Well, grace can mean a whole bunch of things from elegance to mercy to the prayer you say before you eat.
But when we are talking about Divine Grace it’s defined in The Oxford English Dictionary: “The free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings.” But what does that mean?
Through the years you have heard me define grace by saying “Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is getting less then you deserve and grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”
To illustrate, suppose one of your children misbehaved. Now that won’t work, because I know that your children never misbehave. So you will have to imagine that one of your children had misbehaved, still a bit of a stretch but work with me. Your child has misbehaved and because it’s 2013 you can’t spank them so you banish them to their room until they are 18. That is justice, getting what they deserve. But after an hour or so you start feeling sorry for them so you tell them it’s all right they can come out now. That is mercy getting less than what they deserve. But then you say, “You know what, let’s go for an ice-cream.” That is grace, when they get what they don’t deserve.
But what does grace look like?
His Name was Joseph and he began his life with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was Jacob, Abraham’s Grandson, who had become a wealthy land owner and farmer and Joseph was his favourite son. From the time he was just a child it was evident that he was favoured, and perhaps a little bit spoiled, or actually perhaps a lot bit spoiled, actually there was no perhaps about it, he was daddy’s favourite and Daddy wasn’t afraid to show him or his other children how he felt about Joseph.
I don’t know what the final straw was, maybe it was the beautiful coat that his father bought him, or maybe it was when he had the dreams about his brothers bowing down to him and worshipping him. Maybe it was when the rest of his brothers had to tend the sheep out in the field and Joseph stayed at home. Or maybe it was just that opportunity presented itself. Joseph had gone out to the fields to check up on his brothers for his father, and the brothers saw their opportunity. They threw Joseph into a dried up well and then to add insult to injury they sold him into slavery.
From favourite son to slave and the story doesn’t end there. Joseph was taken to Egypt and was sold to a man named Potiphar. If we follow the story along we discover that Joseph was able to gain the trust of his master and eventually became manager of everything that Potiphar owned, but when he refused to give in to the advances of his master’s wife she framed him for rape and he ended up in prison.
From favourite son to slave, from trusted servant to prisoner, you really know the path to downward mobility don’t you Joseph? And to be fair, Joseph’s problems began because he wasn’t very gracious. Well it’s pretty obvious that if anyone needed God’s grace it would be Joseph. But he’s not alone. Some Need God’s Grace Because of Their Attitudes you know, the way we speak to people and treat people.