Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Want To Be Like Jesus!

I was reading Philip Yancey yesterday and came across this. I hope it means as much to you as it did to me.

A phrase used by both Peter and Paul has become one of my favorite images from the New Testament. We are to administer, or "dispense," God's grace, say the two apostles. The image brings to mind one of the old-fashioned "atomizers" women used before the perfection of spray technology. Squeeze a rubber bulb, and droplets of perfume come shooting out of the fine holes at the other end. A few drops suffice for a whole body; a few pumps change the atmosphere in a room. That is how grace shouuld work, I think. It does not convert the entire world or an entire society, but it does enrich the atmosphere.

Now I worry that the prevailing image of Christians has changed from that of a perfume atomizer to a different spray apparatus: the kind used by insect exterminators. There's a roach! Pump, spray, pump, spray. There's a spot of evil! Pump, spray, pump, spray. Some Christians I know have taken on the task of "moral exterminator" for the evil-infested society around them.

I share a deep concern for our society. I am struck, though, by the alternative power of mercy as demonstrated by Jesus, who came for the sick and not the well, for the sinners and not the righteous. Jesus never countenanced evil, but he did stand ready to forgive it. Somehow, he gained the reputation as a lover of sinners, a reputation that his followers are in danger of losing today. As Dorothy Day put it, "I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least."


Josh Ross said...

What book are you quoting from?

Love Yancey, and love the quote.

Rick Ross said...

It's from "What's So Amazing About Grace?"

Jeff said...

I appreciate the thoughts so much because I feel I have learned so much about grace during my lifetime. Choices I have made in the past put me in the position of needing God's mercy so much that it was (and still is at times) hard to accept. I'm thankful I can be loved so deeply.

At the same time, I have to remember that sin, in whatever setting and stage it takes, must be addressed. I fear too many have taken the phrase "hate the sin and love the sinner" and ignored the former while clinging to the latter. The sinner can receive God's loving mercy but the sin must be given no quarter.

Sorry for the soapbox talk but it came up with another friend recently and has been on my mind.

randy said...

This brings to mind 2nd Chronicles 28 (also it was playing on the CD as I drove home from work today). God used the nothern kingdom to punish Ahaz and Judah. Israel defeted them in battle and took captive many of the wives, sons and daughters of Judah intending to make them slaves. However, they were dissuaded from this action by the prophet Oded who asked them "But aren't you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?"

And I am and I need his mercy.