Monday, July 2, 2007

Grace Happening People - "R" Stands for Rascals

June 16, 2007

This is the second installment of a twelve-week summer series based on the anagram “GRACE HAPPENS,” each letter representing a quality that equips us to be “Grace Happening People."

“R” Stands for Rascals
Grace Happening People are Rascals

Rascals? Yes, you heard me right—rascals. In one way or another, at one time or another, we are all rascals. I suppose that if I’m going to call you a rascal I should define what I mean, lest you take undue offense. A rascal may be “a mean, unprincipled, or dishonest person (rogue), a wandering, disorderly, or dissolute person (vagrant, tramp, beggar), a dishonest, unprincipled person (swindler), a worthless fellow (scoundrel), or a pleasantly mischievous person.” (definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster) I’m claiming “pleasantly mischievous” as my rascally persona and leaving the other descriptors to my readers to fight over!

If you’re having difficulty claiming your rascality, maybe it would help to remember the little rascals of “Our Gang” fame: Alfalfa, Darla, Spanky, or Buckwheat, perhaps. If you’ve no idea who I’m talking about, then you are too young to be reading this column (I’m kidding—keep reading!). How about Dennis the Menace, Bart Simpson, Calvin, Ernie, or Curious George? If you’re not familiar with these rascals, then you really are too young!

The Bible makes it clear that God loves rascals and even uses rascals to convey His grace to others. The rascal Moses was a murderer and a reluctant servant—in spite of his burning bush encounter— and well known for his infamous temper outburst when he broke the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. King David—noted to be “a man after God’s own heart”—committed adultery and then had his lover’s husband set up to be killed in battle. When Jesus selected members for his “gang,” he included Levi, a tax collector. Apostle Paul, was certainly a zealous rascal, responsible for the deaths of many Christians, but his encounter with grace on the road to Damascus was a “crosspoint” that transformed him into one of the most powerful agents of God’s grace.

While I’ve never committed murder—or literally broken God’s law (the stone tablets, that is)—I think I probably fall somewhere between these infamous yet revered Biblical rascals and Calvin and Ernie (although I see myself as more like Hobbs or Bert).

So, if we are such rascals, how do we get to the place where we can be Grace Happening people?
Max Lucado, in “The Grip of Grace”, states that “Mercy understood is holiness desired...Grace fosters an eagerness for good...” and “God’s trust makes us eager to do right. Such is the genius of grace. The law can show us where we do wrong, but it can’t make us eager to do right. Grace can.” When we really grasp the free gift of grace, goodness flows from our grace-filled beings. We become grace-givers, empowered by grace. In fact, our very “rascally-ness” can be the clincher in “selling” others on grace. If God can love a rascal like Moses, then maybe he can he can love a rascal like me. And if God can love a rascal like me, then maybe he can love you too!

From one rascal to another, I invite you to grab onto grace and stop trying to earn God’s love and forgiveness. Relax into the arms of grace and you will see God’s commandments as the secret to happiness and peace. Secure in God’s love, we obey out of our gratitude and desire to please our loving Heavenly Father who we know has our very best intentions in mind—not out of fear that we’ll be rejected because we’re too rascally. Then when we do mess up, we can turn to the law for guidance as to how to get back on track.

Grace-Happening people are freed and empowered to embrace their inner-rascal by accepting God’s forgiveness and love as a gift. Permeated with grace, we grow and thrive, and we radiate this love to others. Law and Grace—it’s a win/win situation—if you put Grace in its proper place. Grace first—and we are able to embrace the law as a gift of grace.
Rascals. Gotta’ love ‘em!

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