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Day 12: Grace upon Grace

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
— John 1:16 ESV

Since we are talking about grace, I’m going to let you practice grace.  I’m going to tell you my new favorite tv show, and I know it will exercise your grace muscles because: 1. It was brought up in my son’s Sunday school class as a bad idea this week.  And 2.  I don’t even think my tv friends think it is good.

I’m sorry I can’t quit watching it.  I’ve even watched some of the episodes multiple times, something I rarely do.

It is the new NBC show The Good Place.

Stop it.  I heard you groan.  That’s not nice.

If you haven’t heard of this tv gem, let me tell you about it.  The premise is this, a women dies and finds herself in an office where she is told that she has been good enough in her life on Earth to end up in “the good place” instead of “the bad place.”  In the show, there is a point system that adds or subtracts points (or fractions of points) for every single action you have done in your life.  The problem is that there has been a mistake and this woman who finds herself in “the good place” is actually an awful person who doesn’t deserve to be there.  Almost everyone who has ever lived ended up in the bad place, for example, the only president who made it to “the good place” was Lincoln.  The people who have made it to “the good place” are annoyingly good, and this woman obviously doesn’t fit in.  Comedy ensues.  You get the picture.

I also love tv fake cursing.  Now we have something to add to our Battlestar Galactica's fracking.  If you can't laugh at fake tv cursing, what can you laugh at? 

I also love tv fake cursing.  Now we have something to add to our Battlestar Galactica's fracking.  If you can't laugh at fake tv cursing, what can you laugh at? 

Usually I hate shows or movies that have bad theology laced into their plots.  I cannot tell you how mad I was leaving the theater after the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie End of Days.  I just looked at the Rotten Tomato score, and it is 11%.  I think 11% is too high.

For some reason this show has hit me differently.  I think I know why.  The point system from the tv show isn’t much different from what most humans feel like would be a fair system of eternal judgement.  We’ve all heard the scale system of measuring our good and bad actions described one way or another.  It sounds fair right?  If our good outweighs our bad, Heaven!  And vise versa.

The thing about this weight system and the point system on the show is that it actually isn’t fair.  What about people who live longer and have more of a chance to rack up more points?  What about people who have bad parents, who aren’t taught good from bad?  What about people who have only bad influences in their lives?  What about criminals who decide to change their life and begin to do good?

The show, whether it intends to or not, is showing how unfair the “fair” point system actually is.  What about real, honest-to-goodness, truth-from-the-good-book theology?  It shows itself superior to this man-made point system.

Why?

Grace!

Jesus came and died for you and me, not because we deserved it, but because He loved us.

Through His death on the cross and our accepting of that free gift, we are extended that beautiful gift of grace.

God offers us something better than the frozen yogurt laden land that is the tv version of after life perfection.

God offers us a place in His house, His perfect eternity, Heaven.  Grace means we do not deserve this.  Mercy means He withholds the punishment we do deserve.

We have been offered grace, because no matter how hard we try, we will never rack up enough points to be considered “good.”

We have been offered grace because He loves us.

We love God back, because how could we not?  He loved us first.  And how we show love for others is offering them grace as much as humanly possible.

So go ahead and practice your grace out.  I’m going to keep watching that silly, bad theology tv show because it is escapism at its finest, and because they are proving how much we need grace even more than we need frozen yogurt that taste like a full charged cell phone.  (That is from the show.  See?  I told you it was funny.)

 

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I like to share a song with each blog post.  This one is a little serious for such a silly post, but whatevs.

Don’t settle for worn out

If you haven’t figured this out about me, I’ll tell you.  I watch a lot of tv.  I love it.  I have one of those brains that don’t stop.  Sometimes tv is the only way I can make it rest.

But sometimes tv engages my brain, and makes me think about life.  The  show American Crime did this for me, and it hopefully did this for a lot of other people, too.  The show purposefully took on the issue of race relations in America.  I think it did a good job showing some tough issues.

As you can probably guess, the finale did not end in a group hug or hippies singing on a mountainside (like the other big tv finale this week.)

One of the ending scenes stuck with me, because I think it’s full of truth.  The character Hector, who is an illegal from Mexico, is deported.  Through a miracle, he is found not-guilty to a crime he had been charged with in Mexico.  He is released.  He, his girlfriend, and five-year-old daughter are given a chance to make a life together in Mexico.  Hector gets a job interview at a call center.  The businessman interviewing him asks if he is involved in gangs or cartels.  He tells him that he isn’t involved anymore, and then he says this.

My girlfriend right? See she asked me if I was tired of my life, getting cut up, getting shot. I’ll tell you for real:
I’m not tired of my life, I’m worn out.
See I know people come in here all the time asking you to take a chance on them, tell you how they changed. See I don’t know from other people what makes them do how they do. But I’m 26 years old, and all I got to show for my life is a limp and a scare and a 5-year-old girl who needs her daddy to live straight. I’m not part of nothing anymore, I’m just trying to get a job.
— Hector

How brave and insightful!  I love how he admitted he hasn’t changed, he’s just worn out.  He’s gotten too old to pull off the lifestyle.

I think “worn out” is true for so many people in this world.  That is why the police department doesn’t have a senior citizen crime task force.

The heartbreaking thing is that Jesus wants more for you than this. 

“Worn out” is a story told by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes.  The last chapter tells of a time of life when “the strong men stoop” and “song grows faint” and “the grasshopper loses his spring.”

What is Solomon’s advice in the end?

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’
— Ecclesiastes 12:1 ESV

The world will tell you to live your youth wild and free, break the rules (and the laws), try everything, find yourself, and have your fun.  But the world doesn’t disclose the scars and the limps that you will acquire with a life outside of the rules.

I am so thankful that I gave my youth to Jesus.  Now that I am almost 40, I can say that I’m not a young person anymore.  My youth wasn’t spent in perfect service to the Lord, because James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways.”  But I did try to live my youth for Him.

I do have scars because this world is ugly.  I do have limps because I have stumbled.  Christ alone is Holy.

I just didn’t spend my teens and twenties signing up for trouble and heartache.

The Bible is also full of stories of men and women who came to believe in God later in life.  Paul is one of my favorites.  His life before Christ was bloody and full of hate.  His conversion on the road to Damascus is miraculous.  Afterward, Paul was used by God more than anyone else we can point to.

If your youth isn’t something you have to offer anymore, you still have plenty to offer.

If your youth is still fresh, I will tell you this.  

Live your youth free in Christ under His grace, follow His laws (because we show Him love through obedience), try everything He sets in front of you to do, find your identify in His love and being His disciple, and have fun serving Him.

Do this and you can someday you will be almost 40, looking back at your youth, not full of regrets, scars, and limps, but you will be thankful.