The revolutionary power of God’s grace
When the Gospel is preached in all its fullness, it possess the power and revolutionary purpose towards the entire social, economic and racial settings of our lives. The Gospel in its fullness will challenge the entire social order we live within, and it will confront us in all we have taken for granted in our previous stations within the existing social order. For when in our wealth, God calls us to Himself, our entire life within the material plane of existence, becomes suspect, questioned, and critiqued by the values of kingdom.
Wealth indeed has within it both a light side and a dark side. But the disciple of Jesus gladly embraces his deliverance from the dark side of wealth and he or she will cheerfully celebrate this deliverance. He or she will do so because as a disciple of Jesus, we acknowledge it as the god whom Jesus called mammon. And so we now embrace Jesus’ life and step into his footprints.
This is all a work of God’s grace upon our life. In His grace, God thus comes to us and tells us He is on our side, and that we are victors regardless of how well we have played the world’s game of material gain and social status. For the truth is that our entire striving towards success, has been premised upon our aching need for have or “self” validated. We have this aching need to have our “self” validated through the acquisition of all our things— our material wealth, our positions, our achievements, our titles, and all our success.
Therefore, what now happens to the grace-touched believer, is not— as the success-themed gospel message so often tells us— that we are now free to pursue without guilt all our innate dreams and present pursuits to continue “climbing” this world’s ladder to success. Rather, what now happened to the grace-touched believer is that knowing God accepts us just as we are in all our failure, we are now free to no longer pursue the “success” dreams that the world has laid upon use. God’s grace thus confronts us with the wrongness of our entire present existence in this world’s order.
We are now free to let it all go— to take a “leap of faith,” and fall into thin air. Encountering God’s grace thus then calls us to make a “leap of faith,” a leap from trust in our self, to trusting God alone for our present and future existence. But actually, it is even more, a fall into the loving arms of Jesus. So we are now willing to fall freely along with the downward current of God’s grace. For the river of God’s grace flows naturally not upward but downward. That is why God gives grace to the humble and not the proud. The grace-touched disciple thus worries less about what to wear or what to drink, because he or she has come down to the level of the birds in the air, and the lilies in the field (Matt 6:25-34). Because such a disciple no longer worships mammon (Matt 6:24), he receives all things in life, no matter how big or small as God’s gifts, and thus as expressions of God’s grace. Thus, the disciple is free to serve the kingdom of God, and so go downwards with the flow of grace (Matt 6:33).
The freed-up disciple that has been touched by grace, is thus willing to embrace the script laid out for him by the Lord Jesus— the redemption that comes through entering into Jesus’ life story; His “riches to rags” story. Yet thank God that this “riches to rags to riches” story paradoxically leads us back to true riches, which involves the process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Consequently, there will always come a point in time when the graced-touched disciple, will be confronted with a genuine “call” to in some manner or way, express a solidarity with the poor of this world. This is inevitable because just like water, grace goes downward. And its power will pull us towards its rushing, downward destination towards the sea, where it brings fresh life to all things.
Entering into Jesus’ life, the process of allowing Christ to script our lives according to his pattern is the only true and authentic response to God’s grace. Two things naturally happen when God touches us through His grace, which is the river of His grace. First is that this same grace flows through us. Second is that we flow with His grace, which is flowing downward. Grace will always lead us into service, servant-hood, and servant-leadership. God’s grace is the water that flows from the high places to the lowest places.
If just once we have received God’s grace, we are like the growing disciple named Much Afraid, in Hannah Hurnard’s spiritual allegory, Hind’s Feet in High Places. While climbing the high places towards the Shepherd’s Land, she heard the rushing water’s song as it flowed down the mountain: “Come, Let us go away— Lower, lower every day . . . from the heights we leap and flow, to the valleys down below. From the height we leap and go, to the valleys down below. Always answering to the call, to the lowest place of all.” And once Much Afraid surrenders to that call, she receives her new name, Grace and Glory. God’s grace comes to those who in sheer abandonment surrender to the downward flow of grace. The grace-touched disciple prays, “Abba, I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. Into your hands, I commend my spirit. I give myself; I surrender myself into your hands without reserve, with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.”