Earlier this week I started reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. In chapter 1, Bonhoeffer discusses cheap vs. costly grace. He sarcastically writes, "Let him [the person content with cheap grace] be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace--for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!"
This set me to thinking about the way we think about sin. I believe sometimes we focus too much on sin. Sin, ultimately, is not the issue. A relationship with the Most High God is. It is in the essence of our being, written into the fabric of our creation. We were meant for a relationship with Him. Thus sin cannot be ignored and must be dealt with seriously, but not because it merits that much attention but because it stands in the way of something that does. If sin is the great wall that separates us from God then it must be torn down--violently--but not for the mere entertainment of us watching a wall crumble. Likewise if grace is the bridge that enables us to cross the chasm that sin creates, the bridge is not built so we merely may stand on it; it is built so we may reach the other side.
I do not want to under-emphasize grace. It is one of the most powerful things in the world. Like I believe Bonhoeffer is saying, if we like grace simply because is pardons our mistakes, we do not think nearly enough of it. Grace is so wonderful because it covers our hideous sin (and to appreciate grace I think we really must see our sin this way) and allows us to have what God intended for us to have, a right relationship with Him. The pardoning of sin is not so glorious because it takes away our guilt but because it allows us to be righteous. It is not wonderful merely because it liberates us from bondage but because it brings us into life with Christ. This is why we must not use it as an excuse to keep sinning, for by doing so we misunderstand the intent of grace. Through true grace, may we see the absolute evil of our sin and the absolute magnificence of Christ.
We were helpless in our sin. But Christ is abundant in grace. So He took our punishment. Not so we could feel better about ourselves but so we could lose ourselves that we might find ourselves in Him.