The Gospel of God is grace on fire. It’s love on full blast. It’s peace with power. However, it goes against everything we expect in relationships and even against everything we desire. We expect to have to earn belonging from others and we desire to earn it. We expect all relationships to operate with conditions that must be met and if we or they let us down, the whole thing is off. We expect to “pour” into relationships to get anything out of them. Bottom line, we want to earn what we get. We want others to look at us and say: “You deserve to be here.” In my experience as a leader within the church, this desire to earn freedom and significance applies to the wealthy and the poor, the moral bankrupt and the well behaved, and the spiritually absent and spiritual pure. Grace is one of Christianity hardest doctrines to live within. We cognitively agree to it, but emotionally deny it.

Within Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Miserables, we find an image of grace that captures our whole selves. Within this moment of the story Jean Valjean is rejected by society and spent years in labor prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He is an outcast and unworthy. A priest and a handful of nuns took him in for an evening where they fed him, clothed him, and housed him from bitter winter. That night he steals the silver he was fed on and runs away. He is caught and the police bring him back to face the priest. Expecting condemnation, he instead receives freedom. The priest quickly scolds him for forgetting this candlesticks. The priest gives grace–which produces freedom. This is how you know you’re living within a gospel of grace: it produces freedom in you.

How does the grace you’ve recieved free to you extend grace to others?

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