In my previous post I wrote a blog about a good friend of mine who called it quits and walked away from the faith. It's probably a good idea to read it before reading this one. It's a post called We Don't Need Another Hero. I hadn't heard from him in many, many years but more recently, he's been on my mind. Then today, he called me. Right out of the blue. We haven't talked in so long I don't remember our last conversation. I had no idea where he was and I certainly didn't know how to reach him. But he found me. He tracked me down, found me, and called. That's crazy, even for a five point Calvinist like me.
I'm so glad he didn't call me six or seven years ago when I was so deeply immersed in performance. I couldn't have offered him hope if he had called me then. The only thing I would have had to offer then was law. An endless to-do list of behavior modification that only leads to hopelessness and despair because none of us can pull that off or ever be good enough. Instead, we talked about Jesus. We talked about the good news that Jesus loves train wrecks like me and my friend. We talked about how we got it all so wrong all of those years ago, believing God was mad at us if we screwed up. And man did we screw up. I reminded my friend how Jesus likes to hang out with sinners. He loves us in our messiness and we're all a mess. We just didn't know it then. We thought we were supposed to be strong and competent because that's what we were being told. But that's a lie and no one is like that. Some people just have so many layers of masks that they're wearing that they've become experts at hiding their true selves, or they're just better liars. But let's be honest, we're all screwed up. Jesus knows that and he loves us still. He doesn't just love us. He likes us. When he was on earth, he wanted to be with sinners. And he still does. That's good news because there aren't any non-sinners.
We talked also about Jesus' final word on the cross, "it is finished." We talked about how that means we can't take credit for any of this. Salvation is all God's doing, not ours. We can't perform our way into the kingdom and we can't sin our way out of it. That's grace! The pressure to perform and measure up is off because Jesus performed and measured up for us. We can't add anything to what he's done and we can't take anything away from it. He knows we're weak and that we can't pull this off, so he came and pulled it off for us. We have been set free!
I could tell my friend was hesitant and a little apprehensive to say much at the beginning but the more we talked and the more I shared my own crash and burn story with him, the more he was softened by the message of grace. Grace does that. Law hardens us and scares us away, but grace melts us and draws us in. And grace is so easy and freeing to talk about because it's what rescues me every day. The gospel isn't complicated. It's simple and yet so profound. Jesus came to set the captives free and rescue sinners, of whom I am chief.
We're going to talk again soon.