No, this is not about Mrs. Stenklyft from the 6th grade. This is about a very different teacher named Grace. (She’s not human).
I’ll let Titus 2 explain:
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Grace gets talked about a lot in church, but sometimes in a kind of “fluffy” way. When it’s time to get serious with our teaching, we rarely give Grace the mic. And yet, here she is presented as a great teacher. My question is: How does she do it?
Here are a few of her techniques:
Grace surprises us. Just when we think we know exactly how the story is going to go, Grace flips the script. It makes me think of an interview I read where Bono from U2 talked about the religions of the world: “You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.” I guess it took a rock star to summarize deep theology in such a simple way – in four words, the gospel = Karma interrupted by Grace.
Grace annoys us. Speaking of surprises, bet you didn’t expect Grace to teach this way. It reminds me of a quote from Frank Zappa, describing his music: “We’re involved in sort of a low key war against apathy. Most of what we do is designed to annoy people to the point where they might just for a second question enough of their environment to do something about it.” Grace knows how to get under our skin like that – just ask Jonah.
Grace overdelivers. This is the one that made Grace famous. And if you’re like me, it’s the lesson we need to relearn over and over. Because for some reason, we keep lowering our expectations of Grace. Maybe it’s difficult circumstances we’re going through, or a poor self-concept that makes us think we shouldn’t ask for anything from God, or our own default modes of life and religion that keep us stuck. Whatever it is, Grace is waiting to turn it all upside down as she pours out blessing on us. All we have to do is open our hands.
Grace, this song is for you. Thanks for everything you’ve taught me.
Dave Brubaker is Newsong’s Communications Pastor and movie lover.