Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A meditation on "common" grace

God is wonderfully gracious to us, even when we are His enemies. As Jesus says, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Theologians call that variety of God's love common grace. Both believers in Christ and faithful Buddhists, devout Muslims and screaming atheists can all experience something of God's love because this is the Father's world. So they too can have joy in their marriages and children, delightful meals, restful sleep, passionate love, soul-stirring music, warm sunshine, cool water, and deep satisfactions. All of these things are manifestations of God's common grace to humanity.

These things seem sort of ordinary, and thus we give them the term "common." But is anything in our world more uncommon than grace? Common grace seems to me as much an oxymoron as jumbo shrimp. And yet it is true in a deep, not quite graspable way that this is exactly what God has given us - indescribable blessings so widely dispersed that we think them little, and thus think little of them. But in reality, even the common grace of God is wondrous beyond our imagining. What kind of a Being, after all, scatters His blessings so widely that even His enemies are recipients? What kind of a Being, having done so, is patient with those He blessed, even as they so commonly overlook His blessings? It must be said, that only God would do these things, because only He is perfect love and can do them.

And so, as Job said, "I place my hand over my mouth. Surely I spoke of things to wonderful for me to understand." Words must give way to worship.

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