Scandalous Grace

flashlightThis week I was doing some study in the Book of Joshua.  The story of Rahab, the prostitute, is simply amazing.  In her brokenness she understood something about God that others missed.  She understood that He is a God who redeems us from the mess we make of our lives.  The same story is found cover to cover in the Bible.  He is a God of grace.  This will seem quite scandalous to those who are seeking perfection.  Religious people are quite offended that the spies sought refuge in the home of a prostitute.  The religious people were offended when Mary poured out her offering on Jesus.  Perhaps the actual pursuit of perfection prevents us from fully experiencing God’s grace.  We can spend so much energy trying to be good and trying to get better we don’t always realize how desperate we are for His grace.  We may begin to think like the Pharisees and give thanks to God we aren’t like those sinners and tax collectors!  Friends, these are the very people Jesus came to redeem and the very people who were receptive to His love and salvation.  Even the disciples struggled with how Jesus spent time with the more obvious sinners of the world.

John 4:27-30  “Just then his disciples came back.  They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”  So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?”  They went out of the town and were coming to him.

Jesus offered this woman, who had been married five times and was shacking up with another man at the time, living water.  Now that’s scandalous!  She’d given up trying to be good and was very ready to receive life.  We don’t come to God by being good.  We come to God when we are desperately in need of His grace.  Good people can still be living from the wrong tree if they are living from the tree of self-sufficiency (the very tree which God forbade Adam and Eve to eat).  As long as we eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil we’ll miss out on the living waters Jesus came to give us.  When we find ourselves in desperate need of grace then we’ll be receptive to the living waters – the life that is found in Christ alone.  Without ever focusing on being good we’ll find a whole new way of living.

1 Corinthians 6:10-11  “nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will injerit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We were all of those things and more and the scandalous grace of God met us to begin a mighty work of transformation in us.  He cleansed us, made us holy and justified us in Christ.  Rahab didn’t stay a prostitute and was even honored to be in the lineage of the Messiah.  We were all some kind of a sinner or other when Jesus met us with His grace.  When I’m honest with myself I’m not really critical of the good people who don’t need my Abba’s grace.  I know I was a more obvious sinner in desperate need of His scandalous grace.  Though now a saint, I remain desperate for His grace.  I hope you do too.