The gospel of grace offered to us in Christ is incredible good news. Excellent news. News we all love hearing. He came to set the captives free! That is, it is good news until we begin to realize that it lets in the riffraff - the undeserving, the scum, the train-wrecks, the rebellious, and the disobedient. ...What is that guy doing here?
Yes, we all know Jesus said that he came for the sick, but we’d like to think that this means that he came for those with a slight fever, some sinus pressure, or maybe a small easy-to-hide rash - not those that are full blown lepers, blind as a bat, inexcusable adulterers, sexual predators, drunks, drug addicts, and thieves. For some reason, we are ok with letting our sins get washed away, but have a felt resistance when we hear that that kind of person also gets in.
The gospel is a scandalous, radical announcement of the liberation of sinners. Big ugly sinners that don’t deserve anything are royally robed, given a family ring, and thrown an epic party. The only response possible to this incredible news we call the gospel is to believe it and join in the party or not believe it and keep on holding people to standards neither you nor them can keep.
For some reason, most people want to skip the blessing and benefits of a joy and rest filled party and jump right in with protest conversations about a concerns over “cheap grace.” Last time I checked, grace was offered free to us, specifically because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Resistors also take off down the path of “faith without works is dead.” Which is as true as it can be. Faith in the most-excellent work of the gospel of Jesus Christ produces the most-excellent kinds of works throughout our lives. It is transformative from the inside out. Martin Luther taught, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.” That’s because God is not tracking our good works for some rewards program. That’s not the system he’s using. He’s tracking this - do you believe in what Jesus has accomplished for you?
If your answer is yes - you believe what the gospel proclaims - just think about what this means. Your sins, past, present, and future are totally forgiven. God doesn’t see your day to day failures like you do. You are fully accepted in the brotherhood as an adopted child of God. God could not ever love you any more or any less than he does right now. His empowering Spirit now works in you to transform your heart of stone into a heart of flesh - perfecting that which he began in you. Because of Christ, you are made fully qualified to be an official ambassador of his redemptive and reconciling ministry to the entire world. You don’t even need a seminary degree (in spite of what some may tell you). Your righteousness, mediated to you by Christ, is now in full effect like a robe placed on you that you can’t take off. Your holiness is secured as well, like ring on your finger. Oh, and by the way, there is a party being thrown for you in heaven by the angels, because you’re counted as one of the sinners God saves. Because its a party thrown for you, you’re invited to celebrate Jesus with the angels and thank him for what he’s done, doing right now, and will be doing for the rest of your human life.
When you don’t believe in what Jesus has done for you, you are simply out of the party, which means your experience of God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and the like goes out the window. Not that you’ve lost your salvation, or lost favor from God - this can’t ever happen, but that you’ve lost touch with your salvation, forgotten what is actually true and available for you in the gospel. The invitation to the party has been filled out, your name is on the list, the invite is now in your hand. My perspective, for what its worth, is, who wouldn't want to join in on this good news?