It’s getting close to Easter, so naturally Jesus’ sacrifice has been at the front of my mind… and well as the subject of consequences. The two things may not make a whole lot of sense together right away, but allow me to explain…
Within Christian culture we talk about consequences a lot, almost, in my opinion, to the point of being a little obnoxious. It’s the way we talk about them that bothers me, as though it’s not politically correct to mention hell so much anymore, unless you want to be considered a big fundamentalist, so instead we speak incessantly about consequences. We remind each other and those we are trying to evangelize that there are severe consequences for their actions. So severe it may even cost them their soul. We voice these consequences as a threat, going almost back to that age-old picture of God sitting in wait, ready to strike with a lightning bolt when you’ve done something wrong. Our lightening bolts today look like suffering, financial problems, sickness… the list could go on, and of course it gets more dramatic in some groups than in others, but by and large as the body, we succumb to a degree to this practice of using consequence a way to wield God’s Justice.
Last night in a bible study we got to talking about this very thing and I began to think, why do we have to remind people of consequence, why do we feel like it’s our duty to remind each other and everyone else of the looming consequences for our actions? We should know this, we live in a world that is governed by consequence. We know that if we jump from a window that the consequence will be falling to the ground. We know that the consequence of touching flame is being burned. We are all subject to the law of consequence… shouldn’t it go without saying that when we sin that there will be consequences, because it’s natural?
Then something bigger started to hit me, a reality that had never quite sunk in in the same way before. I thought of Jesus on this earth, first as a human being which should blow our minds in and of itself. God becoming one of us. That alone is huge, but when I begin to think about Jesus here with us, being the only perfect human being, the only one of us not subject to the law of consequence bearing the ultimate consequence… Just beginning to wrap my brain around it is almost unbearable. It’s unnatural… not even that, it defies the laws of nature! So much so that Matthew says that the sky became dark, the sun refused to shine on its Creator being murdered and the ground shook in repulsion. What Jesus did was so outrageous, so scandalous, so unnatural, that the earth literally cringed.
Please don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not saying that teaching right from wrong is not important… but my heart and my head can’t take in the magnitude of what Jesus did for us in living, dying, and resurrecting for us. How can we spend so much time arguing about whose faith counts, about if there are consequences or if there aren’t? Yes there are consequences, but in light of what Jesus did, I have to really risk wondering, do the consequences matter? Obviously they will impact people, but in regards to how I talk to people, how I share with them, is there room for consequences when what my Savior did was so huge?
I believe that balancing truth and grace is important, but what I know is that while I may have to balance truth and grace, God does not. God is 100% truth and 100% grace, He doesn’t compromise one for the other. What I find is that often we look at truth as a sword and grace is weaker, more indulgent. But I see it differently… Truth is a sword, it is absolute and it’s what helps understand our sin and leverage what we know as right and wrong, but there’s a reason that scripture says that we were saved by grace. Truth makes us aware that we need saving but it is grace that made our salvation possible and if we think of the reality of what Jesus did on the cross as mentioned before, then we can understand that grace isn’t truth’s softer counter-part.
Grace is courageous.
Grace is bold.
Grace is defiant.
Grace fought for us… and for my part, instead of weighing consequences, I will fight for grace.