Archive for January, 2017

Grace Demands a Response

January 7, 2017

honorgodGrace demands a response. Well, at least ancient grace. That is, the auction-gavel-2kind of grace in a honor/shame culture of the biblical era of the middle east. We live in a rights-driven culture. Our transactions are judicial rather than personal. Modern grace has a narrower definition.

The church accurately defines grace as, “a free gift of God, that you did not earn and do not deserve.” What is missing in our culture is the patron.

hqdefaultThe patron is the one who grants the gift. It is based upon favors and loyalty. Consider Don Corleone and the opening scene of The Godfather. This is an unequal partnership where the one granting the favor (the patron) expects absolute loyalty from the recipient. Grace demands a response of loyalty by way of respect in demeanor and action as well as publicizing the benefactor’s gift and gratitude. This Sicilian grace is similar to the other ancient Mediterranean cultures.

In our society, we also have something that resembles grace. When someone is laid-off or hurt on the job or has an issue that prevents them from being an active part of the workforce the government offers assistance. It too is a gift that “you did not earn and do not deserve.” It is a kindness. But the patron is lost in the mix. And in a rights-driven culture verses an honor-driven one the gratitude diminishes or altogether disappears. And soon people feel entitled to assistance so that the benefactor becomes the slave and the recipient becomes the deity-like patron.

But this is not a column concerning welfare. I am speaking to those of the faith who take their God-given grace cheap, doing as little as possible to show loyalty and gratitude to our Heavenly Patron. When we forget that grace in the Bible is a free gift that demands loyalty we become our own god expecting answered prayers or we walk away.

offerings-articleGod gave his all in his Son on our behalf. How can we not give our all back in gratitude? Isn’t that the meaning of baptism? There is a difference between paying someone back and paying them homage and gratitude. But I’m afraid little honor culture left in the Americanized church. We are not consumers and worship is not for us. In days of yore they to worship giving expensive sacrifices and long pilgrimages. Now many churches go to extreme expense to encourage and maintain memberships. Once sacrifices and gifts were turned away if they were not without blemish. Now the church welcomes hand-me-downs when members upgrade their own living-room idols. footballSunday used to be the Lord’s Day, now, as the movie Concussion says of football, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week.” From the fatted calf to the pigskin.

God’s grace demands a response, even a sacrificial one. We are indebted to Him. Begin this year right by demonstrating gratitude and loyalty to Christ above and beyond all other things.

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