Illicit Grace

“The grace of God is dangerous. It’s lavish, excessive, outrageous, and scandalous, God’s grace is ridiculously inclusive. Apparently God doesn’t care who He loves. He’s not careful about the people He calls friends or the people He calls His church.” - Mike Yaconelli

Jesus doesn’t care who he loves. He loves pimps, Johns, prostitutes, terrorists, homosexuals, drug dealers, murderers, people who work at planned parenthood, and yes believe it or not even the Christians who think they’re better than all these people. If you don’t believe that, open your Bible. How can a good God love these people when we obviously see that they are “rotten sinners” who “deserve punishment”? I’ll tell you how. It has never been about anyone deserving His love. It has always been a gift. That was the point. If it was about earning it, then there would be no point in Jesus dying on a cross.

We were slaves bound to the unattainable law and stuck in our sinful nature as human beings, but God stepped in and purchased us at a high price, a very high price--His life. He didn’t make you slaves and tell you he loved you, but if you did something wrong he’d curse you and beat you into submission until you did the right thing. No! He adopted you and made you his child. He bought slaves and adopted them as children, but not only children, heirs, heirs to share the glory with Christ.

I think the term illicit grace gets us to understand who Jesus really was when he was on this Earth. I got the term from a book that was given to me last week written by a man named, Randall Worley and his book is called Brush Strokes of Grace. I think he said it right that when we hear those words together, “Illicit Grace” it causes tension, tension that was always felt when Jesus was talking.

Jesus was always about making people uncomfortable and taking things way too far. It was as if he liked it when people didn’t know what the heck he was saying, as if he sought after awkward moments. And one thing was for sure, He attracted the scandalous.

“The word scandalous is given to those who claim integrity all the while living loosely.

However, in the case of Jesus, we need to revisit the definition of the word scandalous. It means, “causing general public outrage by perceived offense against morality of the law. To be disgracefully bad, typically as a result of someone’s negligence or irresponsibility” (Oxford American Dictionary). Public outrage? Perceived of offense? Given this definition, Jesus was guilty on all accounts; or so it seems.”

“Jesus was regularly on the wrong side of town, talking with leaders of the Jewish underworld and with ladies of the evening. His regular interaction with women was considered lewd and indecent behavior for a young, single Jewish man, much less a professed rabbi. The Pharisees would rush home and change their clothes if they merely brushed against one of these social untouchables. To say His actions were taboo is soft peddling it.”

“Religion is always more concerned about respectability and reputation, but the person of grace made of himself no reputation. Reputation is merely what others think you are, not who you really are.”

To understand what I’m explaining a little deeper let’s jump over to Luke 7!

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, so Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house and sat at the table. 37 A sinful woman in the town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she brought an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and stood behind Jesus at his feet, crying. She began to wash his feet with her tears, and she dried them with her hair, kissing them many times and rubbing them with the perfume. 39 When the Pharisee who asked Jesus to come to his house saw this, he thought to himself, “If Jesus were a prophet, he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner!”

In the time of Jesus a woman’s hair was a thing of beauty and was considered erotic.  This is why they were required to keep their hair covered, which today in our society seems like a pretty ridiculous rule, but at the time it was normal. When she uncovered her hair and let it down in front of Jesus and all those men, you can imagine the awkwardness and tension. This was completely inappropriate to the Pharisees. What she was doing was like a wife indicating to her husband that she wanted to be intimate. I don’t believe she was trying to seduce Jesus by any means. She was just giving voice to the desire in all of us to let our hair down, to experience intimacy with Jesus. Jesus wasn’t concerned with her breaking Jewish custom, but was filled with joy over her generous gift.

I want you to take a look at the music video that I feel expresses what I’m talking about a lot. That Jesus’ love isn’t depending on our sin management. Jesus isn’t looking for a certain kind of person to love. He’s looking for anyone who will accept his lavish love. God does not belong to republican, He’s not a flag, and gut check - God is not an American. God is not a white man - Gungor

The video is a little goofy but it gets the point across really well. One of my favorite verses of the Bible as of recently is John 3:17, yeah that’s right 17. Not 16. Can anyone quote that off the top of their head… probably not… but it’s a really important verse.

“God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.”
— John 3:17

 

Anything that you think you know about God, that you can’t find in the person of Jesus you have reason to question.

I stand with Paul when I say, I am convinced that NOTHING can separate us from God’s amazing unfailing love.

Jesus’ love and grace was Illicit, or so it seemed. Jesus loves way past what our minds can comprehend as we say things like, “Him? Really, Jesus? HIM?!” He says, “Absolutely, I loved them so much! I waged the cost to live eternity with them, and I said, ‘worth it!’”

All quotes taken from Randall Worley, Brush Strokes of Grace.

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