The Pharisees of Grace

I struggled whether I want to post up this blog, partly because I am very lazy to do so but I decided against the laziness.

I was wondering over the past few days on the concept of grace in our Christian life. Grace is a gift from God and we know that in some context, it denotes the empowerment of God to live a godly life. In the context of other Scriptures, such as Romans, we see the importance of this concept in Pauline theology - that the reception of the righteousness of God transfers us from the realm of sin to the realm of grace. Grace is thus linked to eternal life. In Romans 6:23, we see that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life - thus implying that we earn what we deserve when we are reigned by sin but we receive what we do not deserve when we move to the realm of grace.

I once heard from somewhere (can't remember where the somewhere was) but I learn that grace cannot be demanded. If it is demanded, then it is not grace at all. If it is given in obligation, then it is not grace.

As I reflect on the practices of the church, I think there has been wisdom for us to be careful not to be too legalistic in imposing rules and regulations and not practice grace to others who seem to fall short. But I also notice that increasingly, the pendulum seems to swing towards the other side. It is difficult to articulate from here, but it is as if grace is being demanded, and if you don't show grace, you are no better than a Pharisee in the Scripture. There are a lot to be said about Pharisees and I think the lay understanding of Pharisees has been marred by just plain reading of historical records from the Scriptures. But coming back to my original point, it is as though grace is a 'must' and people are treated as sinners when they don't show grace - the feeling is as though showing grace has become legalistic, if I may use this irony.

And it is this feeling that makes me feel that sometimes we push the concept of grace so hard that our practice becomes lopsided.

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