One of the things you tend to see as you read and think about Scripture is the irony of how God works. For example, in Mark’s gospel, there is blind Bartimaeus crying out to Jesus because he really sees who he is, and receiving back his sight. And right after that there’s the account of the religious leaders, no doubt scholars in the Scriptures, who are so blinded by man’s approval that they seek to put Jesus to death. It’s the backwardness and irony of grace.
Sometimes I think God does that just to show us that it is grace, that he can work however he likes. He can feed you through normal means like the dinner table, or he can send ravens to attend to you. We tend to miss it when it’s at the table; not so much when weird birds are flocking to us to drop bread in our mouths. It’s a way to show his tender care that he should sustain us in such ways.
That was then, this is now. After 2,000 years the church has finally figured it out, religious people act like they should, and God shows up in the ways you think he should, right? Well, not exactly. God’s still doin’ his thing, helping you and me by methods we don’t expect, maybe just to get us to wake up and see.
We’ve had an interesting go of things with our move, including trying to find a church. So far it’s kind of been the story of unreturned emails and phone calls and trying to be the new kid at high school, chalk full of brief passing stares and the ever-famous “look the other way really fast and walk past them” kind of stuff. So junior high prom. Yup, even as a church member for the last seven years, it’s still awkward when you stand there for five or ten minutes after a service and watch as people just look the other way and shuffle on past without saying hello.
Not really helpful when you’re trying to get to know an area and frankly just need people to step up and help you out. And then there I was at work, asking people to go watch Monday Night Football with me, with people one-by-one saying they had other plans. I asked the guy next to me if he wanted to go, but he said he didn’t watch TV, let alone football. Alright, I thought, MNF at a bar, solo. So it is.
And then sometime after my 10th rejection that Monday, my cube neighbor said, ‘Man, I’ve heard everybody say ‘no.’ I don’t even like football, but I’m gonna go, just because you don’t have anybody to go with.’ Long story short, we met at a sports bar, had a few beers with some pizza and wings, talked through an atrocious half of football and Peyton Manning’s three interceptions, and then he left. It wasn’t until the game ended about an hour later that I went to pay my bill, and the lady told me, ‘Oh, the other guy, he already paid for everything.’
Church members who turn cold shoulders, and “Gentiles” who display compassion and love. It was almost a modern day parable of the Good Samaritan, except that I wasn’t lying in a gutter after a mugging. The point is, the dynamics of God’s grace still take on a lot of the same characteristics as they always have. It’s unpredictable, sobering, and eye opening. It’s usually in the midst of a cesspool of frustration.
Do you see that kind of grace at work in your life today?