The Amazing Confrontation of Grace

The Amazing Confrontation of Grace

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’” (John 6:60-64a).

I made a two-year-old cry this morning.

I didn’t mean to make her cry. Singing about the amazing grace of God isn’t supposed to bring one to tears, at least not her kind of tears, but this morning … it did.

Perhaps I sang it too loud. Perhaps too shrill. Perhaps too full of a truth that exceeded the silence of the moment. Regardless of the reasons behind her tears, they came in full measure toward the end of my song, accompanied by her tender proclamation to her grandma, “I don’t like that song.”

It made my heart smile, and then it made my mind think.

The amazing grace of Jesus Christ is a confrontational word. It is meant to stir a response in the hearts of those who sit within earshot of the proclamation. Jesus Christ didn’t go all the way to Calvary and back to keep us paralyzed by its truth. Grace is meant to evoke a response in each one of us.

For some, grace swallows sweet. For some, it’s a longer chew. For others, grace doesn’t swallow … amazing or otherwise. It’s simply too big of a bite for a stomach that is content to gnaw on the stony rations of an uncomplicated understanding.

Just ask them—those “followers” of Christ who were eye-witnesses to the real-time unfolding of grace’s “amazing.” Some would immediately take to its unwrapping. Some would live with it for a season before coming around to acceptance. Some would simply balk at the weight of it and run in the opposite direction. The “them” of Jesus’ day are no different than the “us” of this day.

We like to think that our responses to Jesus would have been different had we been there. That somehow we would have immediately taken to the truth of his living witness. But I don’t think the benefit of a 2000 year hindsight has birthed a better faith in most of us. Why?

Because we have the truth of Christ’s living witness in our midst. He is here among us; he didn’t vanish on a hillside to never be seen again. He’s been presenting himself and his amazing grace to humanity throughout the existence of time. You and I sit on the backside of grace’s redeeming finish; still and yet, its truth isn’t an easy cloaking for many. It is a “hard teaching” in our time, even as it was during its genesis on a Judean soil so long ago.

Does this mean that grace no longer works? That the amazing of John Newton’s 1779 penned reflection lacks in its truthful punctuation about the completed work of the cross? That our many words about the Word have somehow lost their potency … their capacity and strength to transform?

Not at all.

Grace is still amazing. Two thousand years of testing its waters hasn’t diminished its effectiveness. Grace’s truth remains, despite man’s neglect to the contrary. But grace is as grace has always been.

Confrontational.

Thus, some will receive it and some won’t because confrontation pushes the issue of our consent for God’s holy consecration of our lives. Grace stands at the door of a heart and knocks and pleads and invites and offers, but never will it hammer its insistence into the heart of unwillingness. The cross of Jesus Christ will never force its grace into the will of an unbeliever. It only forces a choice in the matter.

Acceptance or rejection. There is no middle ground when it comes to the amazing grace of an amazing God. Hearing his truth requires a response.

As a teenager, I walked my definite response to an altar on a wintry night in Alabama during a youth retreat. In some ways, it was a familiar walk; from my earliest days I have believed in a great big God who loves me beyond reasonable limits. It wouldn’t be the last time I would walk a pilgrimage of surrender. I’m still walking it. I did so today.

Not because I have finally come to the conclusion of what an amazing grace means, but rather because grace and all its amazing is worthy of my bended knee and a heart’s pause that cries out a prayer or two of unashamed thankfulness.

Even when it’s loud. Even when it’s teaching is a hard swallow. Even when it elicits unsuspecting tears. And especially when the fullness of its truth exceeds the worth of a world’s silence to the contrary.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
[i]

How glad I am for the amazing confrontation of God’s grace with my heart. May I never lose the wonder behind its unwrapping. May I always speak the witness of its truth. I pray the same for you. Thus, I offer my plea this day to the One who created us with grace in mind…

Intersect our hearts, Father, with grace’s amazing witness this week. Fill our mouths with the sweetness of its taste. Loudly knock its truth upon the door of our wills so as to drown out the world’s insistence to the contrary. When it’s hard to understand, when it’s difficult to accept, paint grace for us in a way that swallows easy and that portions fully. May our tears pour the witness of understanding rather than the wet of confusion. Gently wrap our faith in the mystery of Love’s redeeming work and then give us the ample courage to tie the bow accordingly. What we now know in part, we will one day fully grasp. Keep us in revenant anticipation of that final revelation. Amen.

[i] Robert J. Morgan, “Amazing Grace,” Then Sings My Soul (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 78-79.

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PS: My heart is filled with a thousand things to write about this week; thus, you may “find” me here more than usual. There will also be a couple of give-aways along the way so stay tuned for further details. Have I told you lately how much I value the time you spend at my blog? If not, please consider yourself told! You are the driving force that keeps me penning my thoughts for public consumption. I do not take it for granted; I consider your investment of “time” as a sacred trust. I love you blogging friends. And that’s not just some “blah, blah, blah.” That’s the truth. Shalom.

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24 Responses to The Amazing Confrontation of Grace

  1. This song always brings me to tears. I think it’s the way my heart associates it with loss, more than the text of redemption.

    (However, my favorite version is by Wintley Phipps.)

    Am I honestly the first comment on this post??? wow! It’s a banner day! 🙂

  2. just can’t say it enough…
    Amazing Grace…
    just can’t sing it enough…
    Amazing Grace…
    just can’t shout it enough…
    AMAZING GRACE!

  3. As He unfolds the layers of my cloaking that keeps me from seeing my true self, I grasp more the truth and meaning of grace that indeed is amazing…
    I also love Wintley Phipps version, but this one reaches a different spot…I like how God does that…
    Blessings,
    Sita

  4. How cool is it that Grace was the first to comment on your post about grace???

    I love the Chris Tomlin version of Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).

    I wasn’t aware that you are a soloist. I think we all need to see and hear a video of that!

  5. I think the author of one of my favorite songs puts it perfectly….”There’s no other word for Grace than amazing!”

    Amazed at God’s Grace toward me!

    Marilyn

  6. The Lord spoke to me about grace this morning during our worship service — only it was a revelation of grace I needed to extend to a brother in Christ. One more time I realized “how could I not extend grace to another when He extends it to me time and again?” So thankful for His grace and the power of it in my life…

  7. Grace forever amazing. Grace forever true.

    I appreciate the reflection that the “us” of today is much like the “them” of Christ’s day. A good reminder to my soul this Easter season.

    Shalom,
    Denise

  8. This song makes me cry too. Wish I could of been there and heard you this morning. I would of been taking care of that “Two year” old. Not to worry! She does not do slow songs or as she calls them “Sad” songs at all. I have taken care of her many times after some of the songs in late service. Thank you Lord for your Amazing Grace. And Oh! How sweet the Sound!
    Love you my friend!

  9. Sometimes His grace is almost more than I can comprehend and I wonder if I am as distasteful to God as I am to myself?? Then I remember that He sees me not as I am, but as I will be one day. He can only see me through the blood of Jesus!! Hallelujah!!

    Leah

  10. Praise God that I didn’t run (at least the last time) when God presented me with His amazing grace. Love that song too – and adore the Chris Tomlin add-on. Thank you, dear Elaine, for reminding me of the power of His grace.

  11. Me too, Elaine! I am amazed at His grace on me. I am forever grateful that He lovingly offered it to me.
    My life has been blessed because of Him and His love for me. Every time I sing or hear that song…..I feel like it was written just for me!

  12. Elaine, were it not for grace. . . . I so cherish it; it amazes me and melts my heart. I’m astounded by His love, and humbled by such grace that covers my faults and failures.

    Thank you, dear sister-in-Christ, for sharing words of wisdom and grace. I have, indeed, learned so much from you already. Your passion for Him is inspiring and contagious.

    God bless you. I’m looking forward to those treasure in your heart that you will be sharing.

    In Christ’s Love,

    Andrea

  13. Praise YOU Father God. Thank You for Your grace. I pray that people will work out Your grace in their heart and thus be in total awe of You and fall before You in thanksgiving. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

  14. Amazing grace is truly confrontational, isn’t it? I’ve never really thought about it that way; now, I’ll never be able to think about it any other way!

    Hugs,
    Melinda

  15. And that’s not just some “blah, blah, blah.”

    I’m not familiar with this “blah, blah, blah” from you… you normally have this descriptive tone of words… perhaps this is your true unabashed vernacular?

    Isn’t it funny… I would have considered it an investment in your time… so that causes me to be grateful for those who stumble across my way, too!

    I’ll try to keep up with you this week! I have to read every post… can’t let one go to waste! So, pen away!

  16. Yes, His grace IS amazing. And that He willingly directs it toward us is stunning!
    Thanks for the poignant words.

  17. Elaine!

    This would have to be one of my VERY favorite posts!

    Your writing continues to touch me deeply.

    Oh my, I’m just so thankful for HIS AMAZING GRACE!!!!!!!!!!

    And yes, I’m still amazed…

  18. Elaine – no thanks necessary to any of us as we thank you for the time you take to hear God and then to share with us. I personally glean from the nuggets of truth He gives to you and I am ever so grateful to our God for that.

    I was blessed in this message!!

    His Grace is Amazing for He is amazing and at times that Grace can be confronational for some. For me His grace keeps me AWARE of HIS GLORY and all that He’s done and is doing for my life. His grace humbles me.

    I agree with you that if we were alive back in biblical times I’m sure we would have a lot of the same responses they had.

    Love ya.

  19. O I will miss you while I travel but whatever God gives you to share I look forward to reading Monday.

  20. wifeforthejourney:

    Thank you for your insight! YOu have a gift for seeing the uncommon within the common. The story of the song, Amazing Grace, is all that you have observed and more. And the cross of Christ is grace that defies our best efforts to describe it.

    Love you,
    Billy

  21. Oh, mercy, Elaine. I think this is my favorite post ever at “Peace for the Journey”.

    “Amazing Grace” is my all-time favorite hymn. And, it’s my life-time thanks to Him.

    Still, I’ll never look at it the same way again after receiving your wonderful insight.

  22. Oh my friend, where have I been? I have missed too many postings these past few weeks. I am so sorry even though I am the one who needs to be here to soak in your heart and mind (as I know it comes from God).

    You know I am all about grace-I am captivated by it!! It is truly amazing!!

    Blessings!!

    In His Graces~Pamela