Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scandal of Grace

Sorry for the blog hiatus. Since graduation, there has been much I have wanted to share with you including some thoughts I've recently had on prayer, our 125th Anniversary celebration at FBC Mertens, and the ordination service of my friend and our music minister John Lassitter. I will post on those in the near future, but right now I have something else pressing in my mind.

My wife and I recently made another technological advance to catch up to the rest of the world and subscribed to NetFlix. Last night after receiving our package in the mail, we watch one of the most depressing movies I have ever scene: Rachel Gettting Married. The plot is about a woman named Kim (played brilliantly by Anne Hathaway) who is a recovering addict getting to leave her rehabiliation facility to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. Kim was in a horrible car accident while she was high, killing her little brother. This devastatingly emotional event drove a wedge in her family, strainging relationships, causing a divorce, and Kim's own tumble into addiction. I will not give away the whole movie (you can watch it if you want to be depressed), but being around her family sober forces Kim to face what she has done instead of hiding behind her addictions. In one scene, Kim is at an AA meeting, and she said something that has caused me to wrestle in my spirit. One of the steps to AA is recognizing there is a power (God) greater than addiction who can remove the shortcomings of an addict. It is a fancy way of saying what the Bible says about forgiveness. At this meeting Kim, who is finally coming to terms with what she has done to her brother and family, says, "I really want to believe in this God who forgives. But I do not know if I can believe in a God who can forgive me."

There it is. The scandal of grace. The scandal of the cross. A God who forgives the worst. It's amazing to me how much we want justice in the world, even when it is ourselves who need punishment. Perhaps that is our way of dealing with the fallen world: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, justice for the drug addict who killed her brother because of her stupidity. The scandal of the cross says that grace extends to even the worst of people. The thief on the cross. The man who sought to persecute and kill Christians. The man who denied Jesus three times when Jesus needed him the most. The woman in rehab. The President caught in a sex scandal. The murderer awaiting his own death. Even the terrorist hiding out in a cave. The scandal of grace reaches to every one of them. It's hard to believe in a God with that kind of forgiveness when there is so much wrong in the world, so much wrong with me. God, open our eyes so that we can see your grace poured out on the cross. Open our arms to receive the scandal of grace resurrected from the dead.

the sculpture is titled "God's Grace Flows Forth")


Kurt Willems said...

Ray, this is a powerful post and sounds like a depressingly powerful flick. What a profound quote. In a fallen world it is truly hard to believe in the forgiveness of God for the worst of the worst. I am captivated by your thoughts on this and think this would make a great sermon illustration.

A scandal of grace...

Ray said...


I hope you do use it as a sermon illustration sometime.

Ryan said...

good stuff man. while the movie may have been depressing the undertones were surprisingly original; however pluralistic it may be. Scandal of Grace! It seems that only in hurt, pain, fear, and deep seated guilt do we find the true defamation of grace.

Ryan said...