Saturday, November 22, 2008
Justice Mercy Grace
Last year Gina and I drove to Baton Rouge for the birth of our second granddaughter Rebekah. Gina had taken a week off of work so that she could stay with Cynda and help her with Autumn and the new baby. That meant that I had to drive back home alone.
On my way out of Baton Rouge, I took Highway 190 to Interstate 49. I have traveled Highway 190 quite a bit, and I know that you just don't speed on it. It is heavily patrolled. The speed limit was 65 mph, so I set the cruise control on the MINI at 67 mph. I traveled along with the flow of traffic listening to a book on CD about Benjamin Franklin.
As I came into the town of Point Barre, the speed limit dropped from 65 mph to 45 mph. I tapped the cruise control and traveled along with several other cars as we slowed down. The next thing I knew, there were blue lights in my rear view mirror. The patrolman must have been shooting his radar right at the 45 mph sign, and he had to pick me out of 4 or 5 cars to stop, as we were all traveling the same speed. The ticket cost me 160 dollars. To say the least, I was not happy. I felt that the ticket was unfair. I had been trying to obey the law and yet I got a ticket.
PHOTO BY REX LISMAN
My situation reminded me of an illustration that I have heard explaining God's grace. Imagine yourself driving down the road, doing 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. A police officer stops you. If he gives you a ticket--that is justice--for you got what you deserve. If he lets you off with just a warning--that is grace--for though you deserved a ticket, he did not give you one.
I have thought about that illustration and realized that it doesn't quite fit. If he lets you off with just a warning--that isn't grace, it is mercy--for though you deserved a ticket, he did not give you one. However, if, instead of charging you, he personally escorts you to your destination-- that is grace--for he gave you more than mercy, more than pardon, more than you ever expected, more than you could ever deserve.
There are many Christians who like me in Point Barre feel that they aren’t really doing anything all that bad. They are trying to obey the speed limit, which should count for something. They don't see grace being all that great. They are trying to live right. God should realize that.
The “I surrender all” Christian realizes that the law has been broken whether he was going 5 miles over the limit or 55. He realizes that he deserves the ticket, and he is overwhelmed by the unexpected grace.
Romans 5:17 tells us that "if, through one man, death ruled because of that man’s offense, how much more will those who receive such overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness rule in life because of one man, Jesus Christ!
I wish for you overflowing grace!