Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from His fullness, for the law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1:16-17
Carry and I went to the freshman football game against Hesperia on October 21st, and it was a good game. It helped that when we got there it was the beginning of the second quarter and the Burros were already ahead 22-0. That was a change from some of the harder results we have seen at our varsity games this year. (Still…GO BURROS!!) We had expected some difficulties, and to tell you the truth, we have gotten used to our teams not winning, which may not sound great, but it is reality.
What was fascinating, and disappointing, to hear from the stands in the fourth quarter, when there was only 5 minutes left to play, and Hesperia had made it down to the 9 yard line and was about to score, was a smattering of invincibility and overly simplified expectations of a non-descript junior varsity football game on a Thursday afternoon in October. Our coach had put in the second team to give them some playing time and I hear a dad yell from the stands, “Hey, coach!! Maybe you should put in the real players again!”
Then someone, who I assumed to be a grandmother, screamed after Hesperia scored their only touchdown with four minutes left, “Keep your head up guys! Get that one back!!”
Finally, there was a dad pacing down by the front of the stands, with just a couple of minutes to play and we were winning 35-6. We were back on defense and he keeps yelling at the kids, “Get in the backfield! Defensive touchdown!! Let’s go!!! Get ‘em!”
I wanted to shout out to all of the parents, “We’re winning! By a lot! It will be okay!” But I resisted because my wife has it hard enough not being embarrassed by me in public (not really…well…maybe). We, as human beings, are not a grace-based people. We want to be, but we are not. Every day we are forced by the world, by the devil, and by our own sinful selves into a vacuous void of grace, where everything that could be considered grace and mercy given to us is null and void. Just think of your career, the business world, real estate, investments. Everything lives and grows by getting ahead, taking a chance, pushing forward, and sometimes stepping on anyone who may get in our way, usually because we are afraid we might lose, or they will get there first and we will be left out.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ comes to you in a very short word to say, “Lose. It’s ok. In fact, it’s expected.” Yes, He has gained victory for us over sin, death, and the devil. He has stomped upon the head of the serpent that deceived the world into sin. He has nailed our sins to the cross and buried them in the deepest of oceans never to be seen again. He has spat in the face of death with that breath He drew in the dark of the tomb on Easter morning. But all of this came at the cost of weakness. Weakness found in One who gave up His life and did not fight for His rights and try and overthrow, or vote out, the powers that eventually condemned him to death. A weakness found in the willingness to take a cross and nails for you. A weakness that was seen that “Good” Friday when he was stripped naked and left hanging so that all his opponents might sneer at him and shake their heads, stamping their feet in a perceived win. A weakness that comes with power found in a messenger who speaks to you of the good news that comes in this weak Jesus who lived, died, and rose all that you might be free from the fear of losing.
Losing is hard, and it is not much fun. It often comes at a personal cost to us - our reputation, livelihood, or assurance of our own goodness. Yet, that is why grace is grace and mercy is mercy. Grace is a gift, we all know that, but we often tend to make it this one-time thing where we get a little bump at our baptism, or confirmation, or when we “accepted” Christ, then everything is up to us afterwards. No, Church! Grace is all there is for you. Grace is God’s assurance that He is your God, you are His possession, and He promises to give you all good things. That means that grace is this never-ending fountain that must wash over us each day as we go out into a world bent on smashing us to pieces or helping us do the same to our enemies. Grace is the movement God has already made to you that even if your team is 0-9 with five scores to your name this season, it really doesn’t matter. Jesus is still Jesus for you. God is still your God. No matter how bad you lose, He stands beside to scream out, “It will be ok! I’ve got this! I’ve got you!”