At this point I know some things for sure. It’s not my upbringing that made me a Christian, for many people have had similar upbringings only to end up rejecting the faith (and some people, like my Mum, had no Christian upbringing but became one later in life. It’s not about upbringing at all).
It’s not my personality, for I’m sure there are people out there with similarities to myself who don’t believe in Jesus as Lord.
It’s not my intellect, for there are people brighter than me who have walked away from Jesus. I take no superiority over anyone. I may have my “intellectual” reasons for believing in Jesus, but someone else with the same brainpower as mine might reach a different conclusion.
The clear difference is this: one got grace, one didn’t.
I usually think about this from my position as Uncle. Sometimes I give the kids what they deserve and sometimes I will sneak a chocolate to just one of them; I give that kid grace. The common denominator is this: it’s always my prerogative. In the Uncle scenario, as the one who has a certain type of authority over them, it is my choice in how I treat them; I may love them all but, at the end of the day, nobody really gets equal treatment.
Now that is just the gap between a kid and his uncle. What about the gap between God and human? (Note: I’m talking in terms of authority here, not relational distance) If I have a small authority over a nephew, how much more authority does God have over all his creation?
In the same way I do, how much more can God say, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy?”
Where does that leave the Christian? Well, the Apostle Paul writes these words in Romans 1:14-15: “I am under debt to barbarians as well as to Greeks, you see; both to the wise and to the foolish. That’s why I’m eager to announce the good news to you…”
Simply put, grace isn’t grace if it puts you in debt to God. But, according to Paul, the Christian response to grace is to be put in debt to man; we have good news to tell. So God is the one with all authority to give grace as he pleases, but Romans 10 makes it clear that he will work through one means to dispend this grace; humans. So we tell.
Where does that leave the unbeliever? Well, it leaves them where I once was; at some point you have to give in to grace. Grace says a couple things (and more, of course):
1) It says you don’t deserve this. Actually… it says you’re ILL deserving of this. I don’t know of any other club where, to get in, you have to declare that you suck. I do know one thing; if there were a God, why would he play by the little rules we make up? Rules like: I’m awesome and please stroke my ego or I won’t believe anything you say. I like that God is different to us… really, I feel more comfortable with that kind of God as opposed to the kind of god who looks like us and thinks like we do.
2) And once you realise you suck, grace says, “you’re loved.” Is this some weird emotional rollercoaster that God is taking us through? It seems like a weird ride but, in the end, the only way to really know how much you are loved is to realise how much you are undeserving. That is key.
This is grace,