Sometimes it goes on and on, for ten or fifteen minutes. Many African-Americans love that song more than any other…even though it was written by a white man who sold black slaves and treated them like filth. What can explain this?
The same thing that explains how Christians throughout the centuries have treasured the letters of Paul, who zealously murdered Christians. 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. The man who abused those slaves and the man who wrote that song were both named John Newton.
Both shared the same DNA, but the songwriter was a new man. He became a pastor and labored to oppose the slave trade. This hymn has been recorded more often, by more musicians, than any other. It can be sung at the most secular event or pagan concert and a hush will fall on the audience.
Eyes tear up. And not just the eyes of Christians. Grace is what hearts cry out for! Truth without grace breeds a self-righteous legalism. People become frightened deer caught in the headlights of manmade rules. Long lists and long faces turn people from Christ. But grace frees us from bondage and pulls the world toward Christ.
Paradoxy: Coming to Grips with the Contradictions of Jesus - Tom Taylor - Google книги
Truth is good advice. Grace is good news. Human hearts crave good news. My father, the tavern owner, also supplied pool tables, juke boxes, and amusement machines for other taverns. Dad sometimes took me with him on his route.
And I loved it. The men would ask me to shoot pool.
Paradoxy: Coming to Grips with the Contradictions of Jesus
The bar maids would invite me to sit at the bar and talk. Most of them felt far more welcome and accepted in a bar than they ever had inside the doors of a church. Until very recently, so had I. Why do people see it again and again?
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Why does it make them weep? Transformed by the grace of a bishop, who shields him from his theft and assault, Jean Valjean makes a new life for himself as a businessman, mayor and benefactor. He releases someone who has the power to destroy him. Unable to comprehend such startling grace, Javert ends his life, restoring Valjean to freedom.
Valjean is transformed by grace. Then he extends that grace to an equally unworthy man. And where did this cycle of grace begin? With the One who showed grace to the bishop who showed grace to Valjean—Jesus Christ. The Lost Son Jesus tells us of the prodigal son Luke The son scorns his father, demands his inheritance, leaves and squanders it all in immorality. Starving, he comes back to his father to beg mercy. How would you expect the father to respond? Refuse to let him on the property? Flog him? Make him a slave? Yell at him?
Lecture him? He prepares the fattened calf, putting on a feast, celebrating on the grandest scale.
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The meaning? Our father rejoices at repentant sinners, showering us with grace. You owe me! She rebels against her parents, runs away, and becomes a drug-addicted prostitute in Detroit. The months go by. Then, two years later, she gets sick and desperate. Her pimp throws her out on the street. All other alternatives exhausted, she calls home. Looking foolish is a risk God willingly takes in extending us grace. We expect Him to extract His pound of flesh, to make us grovel and beg. Heaven throws a party for every sinner who repents. And it should mean party time on earth.
Grace Versus Tolerance Think about the girl who ran off to Detroit. Some would blame her parents, because their standards were too high. If she wants to watch sleazy movies, fine. If she wants to hang around kids who do drugs, okay.
Grace never lowers the standards of holiness. Grace raises the bar—but it also enables us to joyfully jump over that bar. Any concept of grace that leaves us—or our children—thinking truth is expendable, is not biblical grace. The Self-Righteous Jesus came down hardest on the very people whose doctrinal statement was the closest to His own. The Pharisees were the Bible-believing faithful of their day. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
He achieves status by comparison, elevating himself by pulling down others. But how can the unrighteous be declared righteous? Righteousness never comes by faith in self, but by faith in God.
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