"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9
My old therapist claimed we tend to ask exactly the wrong questions of ourselves. Like anxiously thinking, "Why would anyone want to spend time with me?" Instead of asking, "Why wouldn't they?"
I always fear I'm being overly direct until my co-pastor tells me again, "Vince, you're literally never too assertive."
The Church does it too. Asks the wrong questions of itself.
Take "cheap grace." Bonhoeffer introduced the idea, and we've been worrying about it ever since.
Cheap grace is supposedly grace without discipleship, or confession, or repentance...or whatever.
The Church has been deeply concerned that people not access grace too easily. As if the problem with the world was that it was too grace-filled. There are just too many people who understand their belovedness without needing to prove it or earn it. Everyone's too secure.
How do we convince people they need to work harder and do more to be worthy? It's exactly the wrong question. How do we get the word out about how cheap this grace is? That's a better one.
Confession. Repentance. Discipleship. Great.
None of that changes the cost of grace. Even getting the wrong question can't do it. Believing or not believing that people like us. Being assertive or not.
Nothing. We can't cheapen grace. No matter what we do. We're just not that powerful. Thank God.
Gift Giver, teach me the right questions to ask. Like, where do I get this extremely cheap grace?
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.