Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grace is Hard...

Last night we started a series in BRIGADE entitled, TEN, where we’re looking at the 10 Commandments.  Our first talk last night dealt with our common assumptions that we have deep within us that the ten are void of relationship.  If we look strictly at the surface of what Exodus 20 has to say, it’s really hard to find a God who loves his people unconditionally in there.
So, we backed up and did a quick look at the history of the Israelites starting with Jacob’s move to Egypt.  How the Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians for 400 years (twice as long as the United States has been in existence, by the way).  Then we went through God calling Moses to lead his people out of slavery and how Pharaoh refused to cooperate with God’s plan, so God intervened on behalf of His people – 9 times in fact.  Then with one final intervention we discussed the Passover in Exodus 12.  God rescued His people.
As a result of the Israelites’ obedience, God spares them from the last plague – the death of the firstborn son in each family.  When Pharaoh’s own son dies, he finally decides to let the Isrealites leave Egypt, and they walk out together as a free nation.  They have been rescued by their God, who has taken a personal interest in them.
A relationship between Israel and God had already been set into place.  God had already acted on Israel’s behalf.  If we miss this, we miss the whole point.
God acted first. God moved first. God proved Himself first.  Before the rules, before the requirements, before God asked anything of Israel, God made His character known.  He made His love known.  He made the relationship known.
But in all of that (at least from my perspective) we still missed the point.  At the end of the night I asked my JH boys what their one takeaway was for the night, and every single one of them came back with “try harder to live my life according to the 10 Commandments,” “honor my parents better,” “make sure that I’m living a better life.”
Grace is hard.
Grace is hard to hear someone talk about and freely accept it.  It’s difficult to believe that there is a God who desires a relationship with us more than for us to follow a set of rules (sounds a bit like RELIGION doesn’t it?).  Grace is hard, because we rarely meet someone who is gracious.   Grace is hard because so many of our first experiences with God are with His representatives – “Christians” – not living in, and extending that Grace, that unconditional love as freely as God does.
And so Grace is hard to understand.  I’ll even admit, that in my writing out the words that I would say last night I had to do a double take on them, and wonder if I was going to preach a gospel with too much grace, and not enough stipulations for us to live by once we experience that Grace.
Grace is hard.