I get a little embarrassed when I think about how judgmental I used to be. When I got saved, I had a true understanding and grasp on the love of God, then somewhere the opinions of man and doctrines of the church warped my sense of what grace really meant.
I remember singing that song in church, yet I lacked true understanding of what it really meant to be saved by the blood of the lamb. According to Webster, the term "scandalous" means offensive, shocking, disgraceful.
But none of those terms pertain to my Lord, I would think as I continued trying to earn my salvation.
Yes I was in love with God, and yes I was truly seeking out the will of the Father. Out of ignorance and mere trust of the ones who told me this I had convinced myself that the grace of God was conditional.
I was the person who thought I could live out my whole life for God and say a curse word two minutes before I died and thought I would go to hell. What kind of love is that?
I felt something in my heart was missing. I wanted to reach the world for Christ, but my own ignorance was pushing them away. I prayed for God to give me a heart to love like He does, and to see the things He sees.
The day my grandpa died is a day I don't like to think about too often.
He was like my Dad. In fact, I lived with my grandma and grandpa for a part of my childhood. He loved me, a lot. And I loved him too.
He had a drinking problem. And when I say drinking problem I mean it was bad. Back in the day he was what you might call a "heathen." (A term used often in the backwoods of Kentucky.)
He didn't feel like God wanted him. Growing up in the Bible Belt of America, we are condemned if we come to church with any sort of problem, so many from this area don't even try at all.
We are taught to fix ourselves before we come to the church instead of being told to "come as you are."
I remember one day as I was sitting on the porch with my grandpa. He was listening to old gospel music, I was about four or five at the time. I remember asking him, "Grandpa, do you love Jesus?"
He said, "Yes, I do."
Then I continued playing with my little kitchen he had built for me.
Later on after a few short moments of silence I questioned him again.
"Grandpa, will we be in heaven together?"
He smiled at me and said, "We sure will."
Based on his works and the things he did in his lifetime, I knew he wouldn't stand a chance to enter heaven. I didn't stand a chance. In fact, no one I knew stood a chance.
But when he was laid to rest, a peace so sweet came over me. It's a little hard to explain, but it was like God whispered, he's resting in me now.
Romans 3:23 tells us that "all have sinned and falled short of the glory of God." We are none perfect. If we rely on our own perfection, we will miss heaven by a long shot.
How can it be?
Scandalous grace. Something so beautiful, we don't deserve it. During this time when I fretted for the life of my beloved Grandpa, God reminded me of Luke 23. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, two criminals hung on both sides of him. One cursed and insulted him. The other criminal rebuked him saying, "Don't you fear God? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man, (Jesus) has done nothing wrong."
Then in a breath he looked to Jesus and said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus turned to him and answered saying, "Truly I tell you, today we will be together in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43 NIV)
That passage of scripture gives me chills, every single time.
He was given scandalous grace. When you think of someone whose "scandalous," who do you picture? Possibly a hooker, a murderer, a hustler, but certainly not Jesus.
The beauty of grace is that Jesus took our place. He took the place of the hooker, the adulterer, and the murderer.
He became sin to make the spotless sacrifice. We can't escape the grace of God. Because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, the veil has been torn. We no longer have to sacrifice cattle because the perfect sacrifice was made.
Not that we should go on sinning by any means, but when your foot falls, grace is there to catch you.
God loves you so much. You are imperfect, yet you are loved perfectly by a perfect God. It's a love that will never die, and never fade. You are the prize, the reason Jesus did what He did.
When we try to enter heaven by our works, we are discrediting the meaning of the cross, therefore, our religion is void. Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.
We are now saved through grace. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD-, not by works, so that no one can boast.
None of us can boast in who we are. We are all imperfect human beings. Grace is God's gift to us for the simple fact that He loves us. We tend to try to complicate the gospel when it is so simple.
No matter where you are today, God's grace is for you. Some may call this "soft teaching." I call it the word of God. He loves you today. If you are far away from God or have been trying to earn grace I encourage you to pray this prayer.
Have mercy on me, for I am a sinner. I repent of my ways and I will choose to go wholeheartedly after you. I thank you for the gift of your grace. I thank you that I cannot earn it, yet you freely give it to me. Help me to rely on your love and grace through each day. Transform my heart and mind to become more like you. I thank you for paying the price for my sins. You are so good, Father. I love you and thank you for all you do.
In Jesus name,