Monday, April 07, 2008

Not a Red Dot Sale

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found
was blind, but now I see!

(sing along if you know the words)

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
'Twas grace that led me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home

[key change]

When we've been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun
we've no less days to sing God's praise
than when we'd first begun

The song is more familiar than the national anthem, being sung by church choirs, children's choirs, Aretha, Elvis, Willie, and we could probably dig up a version by Marilyn Manson. For those of us who understand the meaning behind the words, though, something pulls on the strings in the deepest part of our souls saying that the gift of grace that we've been given is really, truly amazing.

What's even more amazing is that this "Amazing Grace" is free. Completely, entirely, no strings attached free.

I've been given a number of free things in my life. I got a free floss card at a concert once. I usually get a free pack of fireworks when I buy 5. I've gotten free drinks, free dessert, free movie tickets, and free clothes. Free things happen. But while God's grace is freely offered, it's not free like a shampoo sample is free.

Usually when people give me something for free it's because they want me to buy something else from them, or because they've already used it for all it's worth, or most likely because it's not really worth much to begin with. When I get something for free the giver has rarely lost something important in the transaction. I'm able to use and abuse my free gift because it didn't really cost anyone anything of value.

It's different with this "Amazing Grace". Free grace does not equal cheap grace.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
~Romans 3:22-25a

God's "Amazing Grace" was the most costly thing that has ever been purchased. For the first time in eternal history the Godhead was separated and the Creator became subject to the fallenness of His creation. Yet He hands us this grace as a free gift.

Not cheap -- free.

Here's that old favorite hymn one more time. Listen to the words, but this time look at the price tag.

This was the cost of grace -- free grace, amazing grace.

Yes, it is free, but let's not treat it like it came from the clearance rack.