Monday, September 07, 2009

A More Wholistic Gospel of Grace

I think 'grace' is a beautiful word, in fact one of the most distinctive attributes of Christianity. Unfortunately, this elegant word has sometimes been overused and often maligned. Some see grace as something reserved only for their own benefit and self-gratification. For example, they may see grace as grace only when they see the money. They justify that on the basis that they cannot 'ble$$' others without God first 'ble$$ing' them. If a person claims to have faith, and his bank account not only does not grow but shrinks, does that mean that person has lack of faith? Some even claims that the New Covenant guarantees one for riches on earth. Prosperity gospel preachers openly proclaim a doctrine of "Give-More-So-That-God-Can-Bless-You-More." The teaching is seductive, and appeals to the inner self-desire of people. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of the most pious preachers, there is a high risk of people who will misunderstand the full gospel of grace.

If the gospel of gra¢e is limited only to such channels, the problem of poverty in the world is even more troubling. Does that mean that millions of people in Africa, South & Latin America, large parts of Asia are not blessed? Sometimes, radical 'gra¢e' proponents taunt those who oppose prosperity preaching in terms of 'if-you-do-not-want-prosperity-God-will-not-force-them-on-you.' That is clearly presumptuous as if one is the elf of a Santa Claus God, even bordering on mischief and does not reflect a gracious attitude. I think we need to have a more wholistic understanding of grace. Here is where we can learn from the saints of old.

John Baillie is one of my favourite theologians and prayer gurus. Here is an example of his prayers, which ought to challenge those of us who are stuck with Grace = Ble$$ing paradigm.

John Baillie (1886-1960), Scottish theologian
O thou in whose boundless being are laid up all treasures of wisdom and truth, and holiness, grant that through constant fellowship with thee the true graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within my soul:
The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart:
The grace to await thy leisure patiently and to answer thy call promptly:
The grace of courage, whether in suffering or in danger:
The grace to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ:
The grace of boldness in standing for what is right:
The grace of preparedness, lest I enter into temptation:
The grace of bodily discipline:
The grace of strict truthfulness:
The grace to treat others as I would have others treat me:
The grace of charity, that I may refrain from hasty judgment:
The grace of silence, that I may refrain from hasty speech:
The grace of forgiveness towards all who have wronged me:
The grace of tenderness towards all who are weaker than myself:
The grace of steadfastness in continuing to desire that thou wilt do as now I pray.

Hopefully, God will help ALL of us, establish God's grace in all its fulness, and not measure grace with fullne$$ per se.


1 comment:

Stanley TAN said...

Agreed with you kian seng.
even though I am attending a grace church.


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