How to know if you don’t know grace

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We talk a lot about Grace Turned Outward here at the Catch, but sometimes I wonder if we really know what we are talking about when we talk about grace. Grace is almost impossible for us to understand or accept because it is so foreign to our performance-oriented nature as human beings we all have cultivated since childhood.

Grace is one-way love, favor and forgiveness showered upon us individually, in abundance, for no apparent reason other than God desires to do so. It is completely sourced in God and not brought on by anything in us. We contribute nothing. This makes it difficult for us to understand and accept because it is so foreign to our character and experience.

One of the ways to determine if we know or understand anything about grace is to look at our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. How we think and react to people is one way to know whether or not grace is a real factor in our lives.

Here’s a little test:

If you feel guilty all the time, you do not know grace.

If you are competing in your own mind for spirituality, you do not know grace.

If you are counting up points, good or bad — for you or for someone else — you do not know grace.

If you are comparing yourself to anyone, you do not know grace.

If you are thinking that God is lucky to have you on His team, you do not know grace.

If you are trying all the time and not quite making it, you do not know grace.

If you are always thinking about yourself, you do not know grace.

If you gain from someone else’s loss, you do not know grace.

If you think you deserve better, you do not know grace.

If you are hoping God grades on the curve, you do not know grace.

If you feel joy when someone else fails, you do not know grace.

If you think someone else deserves worse, you do not know grace.

If you think that God is not fair, you do not know grace.

If you carry any grudges in your heart, you do not know grace.

If you are full of regret, you do not know grace.

If you think Christianity is a crutch, you do not know grace.

If you are wishing you had someone else’s life, you do not know grace.

If you think “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” you do not know grace.

If you are thinking so-and-so will not be in heaven, you do not know grace.

If you think someone should pay for what they’ve done, you do not know grace.

If you think someone deserves to go to hell, you do not know grace.

If you think someone deserves to go to heaven, you do not know grace.

If you’re trying to keep anybody out, you do not know grace.

If you have little compassion for other people’s plight, you do not know grace.

Grace overwhelms you. It astounds you. It puts an end to all judging, comparing and spiritual pride. It puts us on the same level and then lifts us up together. There is nothing that compares with God’s grace.

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Can you find the Christians in this picture?

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Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? Abraham Lincoln 

I love this picture. I’m using it again because it’s such a great visual for us as Christians in the world. Can you find the Christians in this picture? No? Good.

As far as I can tell, this is a picture of a bunch of sheep and goats together in a big herd. And when you see them all together like this, you get a sense of their sameness. They all have cloven hooves, four legs, the same shaped heads and ears, they all go “Baa”; they can even mate and produce offspring. Someday they will be separated, but not today. Today they are all together and that’s as it should be.

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Separating the sheep from the goats

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Last week we talked about loving everyone and letting God do the sorting. That whole idea of sorting people is a difficult one. Sheep and goats, heaven and hell, and God creating vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor are extremely uncomfortable subjects that we would be better off not knowing about. It’s knowledge that is not of practical use to us when it comes to individuals.

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Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

If every stranger you met were a potential angel, how would you treat strangers? Pretty well, I would guess. We typically treat people we know with a level of respect and honor. What this suggests is that we treat those we don’t know with the respect and honor you would give to an angel.

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Let God do the sorting

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About a million years ago, Carole, one of our long-time Catch members with a very active sense of humor, sent me the following comment that I just managed to dig up (which makes this whole thing go back at least 2 million years!).

“About a million years ago, I had a tee-shirt that said ‘Kill ‘em all – Let God sort ‘em out.’ (I thought it would be the perfect thing to wear if I were ever called for Jury Duty).

I think the message to us in scripture is ‘Love ‘em all – Let God sort ‘em out.’”

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LIFE SHORT / CALL NOW

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“Life Short Call Now” is a song by Bruce Cockburn. It’s also a pretty good idea.

Years ago we talked about this — about calling someone you love just to call. No favor. No agenda. Just a call. Because you realize that life can be over so fast you lose your chance. You pick up the phone and someone’s not there anymore.

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Keep what you can’t keep

 

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It’s really easy. Just 30 simple steps.

What’s the use of trading

A law you can never keep

For one you can

But cannot get you anything?

Do you understand the riddle above, because that’s what it is: a riddle. Can you solve it? It’s about the Pharisees and anyone who bases their spirituality or sense of righteousness on a standard to keep.

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Stuck on God’s love

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My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine

Softer than a sigh

My love is deeper than the deepest ocean

Wider than the sky

My love is brighter than the brightest star

That shines every night above

And there is nothing in this world

That can ever change my love

Written by Tony Hatch

Sung by Petula Clark, 1965

You’re gonna hate me, but misery loves company and I relish the fact that I can now torture many of you with this song giving you at least a day, maybe more, where you cannot get it out of your head. Our washer broke down, and the guy at the laundromat plays mostly oldies. That’s how I got started. I’m on Day 3 now.

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