Monday, November 2, 2009


"As I reconsider my own assumptions about relating to God, I now see them as misguided and simplistic. From childhood I inherited an image of God as a stern teacher passing out grades. I had the same goal as everyone else: to get a perfect score and earn the teacher's approval. Cut up in class and you'll be sent to the back of the room to stand in the corner or to a vacant room down the hall.

Almost everything about that analogy, I have learned, contradicts the Bible and distorts the relationship. In the first place, God's approval depends not on my "good conduct" but on God's grace. I could never earn grades high enough to pass a teacher's perfect standards - and, thankfully, I do not have to.

In addition, a relationship with God does not switch on or off depending on my behavior. God does not send me to a vacant room down the hall when I disobey. Quite the opposite. The times when I feel most estranged from God can bring on a sense of desperation, which presents a new starting point for grace. Sulking in a cave in flight from God, Elijah heard a gentle whisper that brought comfort, not a scolding. Jonah tried his best to run from God and failed. And it was at Peter's lowest point that Jesus lovingly restored him.

I tend to project onto God my understanding of how human relationships work, including the assumption that betrayal permanently destroys relationship. God, however, seems undeterred by betrayal (or perhaps has grown used to it): "Upon this rock," Jesus said to unstable Peter, "I will build my church." As Luther remarked, we are always at the same time sinners, righteous, and penitent. The halting, stuttered expressions of love we offer may not measure up to what God wants, but like any parent God accepts what the children offer."

AMAZING GRACE!!! Living in this truth today!

-Philip Yancey, Grace Notes

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