I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase ‘the grace of God’ here and there throughout my entire life. And just like most churchey phrases, it became so familiar that it lost all meaning. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago in my late thirties that I began (and am still merely beginning) to understand the implications of this phrase on real human life in this very existence.
Thanks to having found and being indoctrinated by the Lutheran tradition (it’s fine, I gave them permission), I quickly learned that grace is something they can’t ever stop talking about. But this time, the way they put it, this tired old word took on a new life in the way they were talking about it. I started to see that grace isn’t just some simple, ephemeral, namby-pamby thing.
Grace is a deeply radical theological concept. It’s one that reverses entire narratives. It shocks and even offends the most righteous of souls. Grace flips the conventional human narrative upside down, reaches into its guts, and turns it inside out. It’s something that sounds too good to be true by most reasonable standards. As some have said, if what is preached on Sunday doesn’t make the most devout of people nervous, grace was not being preached.
In the Christian sense, grace is the idea that says this: Instead of remaining in the clouds and holding humanity to repentance and payment for their transgressions, God has lept out of the clouds to willingly hang on a cross so as to say, “Look, here I am. I want and need nothing from you. I love you. I forgive you. And now, I’ll prove to you through my death and resurrection that this whole payment system that you guys dreamed up and put on me is over.”
(BTW, I love putting words in God’s mouth. Kinda my favorite thing.)
Christ revealed that there’s nothing for us to do in order to get on the good side of the divine. When God hangs on a cross surrendered to human violence while loving them anyway, this sent a signal throughout human culture that God isn’t out to punish or command. God’s only intention is to love. It’s all been done and ‘paid for’ (even though there was no payment necessary except in our minds). All…