By Jim Tune
It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works. Most people who have tried religion discover this sooner or later. I know this. I’ve tried life on the gerbil wheel of good works, knowing the futility yet running relentlessly to earn approval.
Heaven knows I’ve tried—and still do. Reaching midlife and realizing I still fall far short has, in some ways, been a healthy discovery. I have not “arrived” spiritually; in fact, I’m as far away as I’ve ever been. That said, I’m not quite ready to capitulate to the demands of the flesh. Instead, I’m capitulating to God’s amazing grace. From there springs my only hope of transformation. Resigning to grace means I can be a little more kind to myself when I stumble and fall.
It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works. I guess that’s the nature of any addiction. The Christian life, absent of grace, is no life at all. The Rolling Stones’ lyric is turned upside down when we add religion: You can sometimes get what you want, but try as you might, you never get what you need. This is what makes the performance plan so dangerous.
Of course, grace is dangerous too. It unsettles our preconceived ideas, uproots our ingrained habits, and redirects our deepest desires.
Capitulating to grace helps us accept, and even celebrate, our brokenness. Roy Hesson writes, “To be broken is the beginning of revival.” God used a broken heart to restore King David to him. God used broken loaves to feed five thousand and then some. God used broken fishing nets to challenge the disciples to depend on him over their own weak efforts. God used a broken body, pierced for our transgressions, to provide salvation for all humankind.
I’m beginning to understand what Women of Faith prayer advocate Lana Bateman meant when she said, “The holes in our lives can become places of hope.”
Luke 2 informs me my primary (but not only) purpose as a preacher is to declare good news—news that produces great joy in people. When I was new to preaching, I think I was afraid of preaching too good of a gospel. Sometimes preachers feel we have to offset the really good news with more ominous passages. It’s as if preachers imagine if we told people God has finished the work, that he has redeemed and accepted them, that he loves them and is not mad at them, that grace is real and that God forgives all sin, past, present, or future, they might start acting crazy. Beginning with me, I’m sure that understanding the gospel is good news should help us all be a little more cheerful and nicer to hang out with.