In a conversation with a friend from Pennsylvania, she told me she was thinking of leaving her church. When I asked her why, she said that many of the ‘20 somethings’ would go out on Saturday night, drink heavily, even to the point they would show up for worship on Sunday morning still intoxicated. But, they would claim that it was OK because they were covered by God’s grace. In other words, how they lived their lives did not matter because God would just forgive them. This is referred to as “Cheap Grace,” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Theologian and Martyr for Jesus Christ. He states, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” If any of us fall into this mindset of “Cheap Grace,” we are headed for a very slippery slope that has the potential to lead us to the wrath of God.
In Romans 2:1-11, the Apostle Paul warns the Roman Church to be careful when judging others and how you are living your lives, without first taking a good look at how he or she is living your own life. In our judgement of others, there is a potential to take advantage of God’s grace and mercy – “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). God’s Law for Christians is to remind us of how we will fall short of living the life God intends for each of us. Therefore, God’s Law does not condemn us, but saves us! If we reflect on the Law, we can know that we need to repent. It is impossible to follow the Ten Commandments! Therefore, not one of us are righteous until we repent for our actions, thoughts, and behavior. This is “Costly Grace” – recognizing that Jesus Christ died for you and that has significant meaning for you by seeking God’s glory.
However, on the other hand, those who are “self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil.” (Romans 2:8-9). The point here is that our actions and the way we live our lives matter! As Christians, we are called to turn away from our sin, repent, get up the next morning and try to do better than we did the day before. It is God’s amazing grace that gives us this opportunity to start each day fresh and new. This is something not to take lightly, but to give God thanks and praise for the gift of his son, Jesus Christ.
Let us pray…Gracious God, we give you thanks and praise for your Son, Jesus who died for us so that we can live our lives with the hope of eternity as our home. Help us to turn to you for forgiveness and bestow your amazing grace upon us. We love you so much, Amen.