While teaching a Bible study recently we came to a verse about God*s love and grace. I can’t remember exactly what the verse was but it was cut from the same cloth as, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:16
A conversation erupted from that verse and people from all walks of life began talking about how they experienced God’s grace. I asked the question, “How many people think God’s grace is amazing?” The whole group shot up their hands. I then asked the question, “Is God’s grace so amazing that it can forgive murderers? Criminals? Hitler?” The hands dropped.
The excitement about God’s grace in our lives turned into disbelief that God’s grace could forgive others. Some folks even bemoaned prisoners in jail coming to Jesus. Others said they didn’t want to be in heaven with those people.
Now let me be clear – No one really knows just how amazing God’s grace is. Our faith clings to Jesus’ promise that it is so amazing it finds a way to forgive us. And at the end of the day it isn’t up to us to worry about whether or not God forgives others. But I do believe this… God’s grace is NOT amazing because it finds a way to forgive half-way decent people. It is amazing because it finds a way to forgive the worst of us – the biggest sins and the biggest sinners.
It helps us understand God’s grace better when we remember the story of Jesus eating dinner in a Pharisee’s house. In the middle of the meal a woman who is identified as a sinner comes in and starts to anoint Jesus’ feet. The Pharisee can’t believe it. He thought he was worthy of Jesus’ love and attention, this woman was not. Jesus says to him, “Look. The greater the sin that is forgiven, the greater the love that is expressed.”
All that’s to say let’s stop worrying about Jesus forgiving sinners and, 1. Start celebrating that God*s amazing grace forgives us and, 2. Find ways to express amazing love and gratitude. After all, remember, God’s grace is really amazing because it finds a way to save not only okay people like us, but “a wretch like me.”