Grace as Light
Another Title for today’s theme could be ‘The Problem of Self-Deception’. This is a major biblical theme… and is best captured in this metaphor of light in darkness.
Both readings for today are about grace. The second one brings out the idea that the gift of grace which is the life of Jesus, is light in darkness… but let’s read the other one first.
READ EPH 2: 1-10
Ephesians contrasts living by grace vs children of wrath (cycle/generativity of wrath) Wrath, can mean anger, it can mean vengeance.
DATA QUESTION 1:
Who were the baddies when you grew up?
VIDEO AMAZING GRACE – John Newton – Second Conversation: from 22:05 – slow dawning
John Newton discovered that he was part of something enormously bad. Perhaps he was a nice man in a bad system. Perhaps he tried to treat his slaves well. The truth of the life he was part of was not pretty when God’s grace came to him….
Grace came to him like light in darkness. Now he really is blind, ironically he has learnt to see the truth
READ JOHN 3:14-21 (eternal life = life of eternity/God)
DATA QUESTION 2 What does Grace mean to you (in the light of that passage)?
The first thing God’s grace does it is sheds light on our lives… the light is a metaphor for truth – it tells us the truth about ourselves. And what we see about ourselves when the light shines on us is not a pretty sight… Grace is first of all bad news, it’s a kind of judgment, the judgment of truth, but it’s never bad news alone. Never bad news on its own. It’s judgment but it’s not condemnation
John says Jesus is NOT sent by God to condemn the world… but some who do not believe are condemned already. What does this mean? [open question]
Perhaps the metaphor of light helps. Does it mean already in a state of self-destruction [loving darkness]. v 19 “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light”. Unless we come to the light, we continue in a state of self-destruction, self-justifying self-destruction. (see discourse on Blind man in John 9).
An integral part of what’s wrong with the world, an integral part of what it is to be caught up in this business of being children of wrath, is to be in denial about it, it is to believe that we are ok, other people may have a problem, but we are ok.
[aside – modification of the words of amazing grace to eliminate ‘wretch’]
Because God’s grace is light and truth, it is also judgement (it’s first act is to unveil to us the truth about ourselves) and we either run from it, keep our eyes closed, like Ivan with his blindfolds on or we believe and begin to let God recreate us… to believe, is not just to think, but to receive…
But see in the final verse [“But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”] when we have received God’s freedom to live outside of the bondage of wrath and all that, those who believe and are receiving God’s eternal life, are happy to come to the light. They no longer shrink back – in the presence of God’s giving they can live in spite of their weaknesses and sin. They come to the light, they come into the presence of God’s truth because God is giving them eternal life, and whatever good they may be doing is a gift to them from God – the onset of eternal life
If God is to save us from ourselves, we need light, we need judgment. Only by judgment are we saved…
The thing about Grace is that it comes to us ‘as we are’. Whatever situation the light dawns on, and the truth finds us in… that’s the place God offers us eternal life.
Two ways to avoid grace – (1) to think you are ok and don’t need it (2) to think you’re not ok and have to be before God will meet you
Ruth’s question: What is Grace? Literally gift. But what kind of a gift? Time for a fuller answer:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is a special kind of gift. It is God’s embracing gift of light and judgement and hope, even when we are still children of wrath
Bruce Hamill (at Breakfast Church at St Clair 22.3.09)