Ruthless Grace

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:16‭-‬17 NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 NIV

God’s grace is a hard thing to get a grip on. There are many images we can try to use to explain. We can tell our stories to one another to try and describe it. However, the only way to really understand grace is to experience it, and even then it’s a mystery.

Even after experiencing grace, it is extremely easy to lose sight of it. The whispers of, I have to earn favor; Be sure to be a good boy; and eventually Man, you really screwed up. There’s no turning back for you now stick in the back of our minds waiting for the opportunity to pop out. 

My insecurities and fear may never leave me completely, but that doesn’t mean that they have to steer the ship.

In Mark 2 at Levi’s (later to become Matthew) party, Jesus is cornered by the Pharisees. “Why are you hanging out with these sinners? Why are you at this tax collector’s party?”

His answer – I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.

I lose this truth so often. Jesus didn’t come to justify the righteous. He didn’t come to make the healthy feel really good about being healthy. He came for the sick, not just physically but more so spiritually. 

We are all sick spiritually. There are just those of us who know this and those that don’t. The Pharisees, at least some of them, didn’t see their sickness. Keeping rules means very little if there is no compassion. Righteousness doesn’t mean much if it becomes self-righteousness.

A life based on performance is void of grace. I know this because I teeter back and forth between feeling like I have to be “on all the time” to finally surrendering to the fact that I’m just not enough and letting God carry me.

Grace happens in those moments. I was reading the book Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning several years ago when the power of grace hit me. Grace doesn’t just say I forgive you. Grace says I love you.

If you feel run down, tired, and like you can’t cut it I’ve got something to tell you. You can’t cut it… But you don’t have to. You are loved, and God in His grace is reaching out to you whether you know it or not. 

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