No Strings Attached
My historical hero Martin Luther once said that “To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing.” It’s the hardest thing because we are strings attached people living in a strings attached world with other strings attached people. Everything is conditional.
We’ve all grown up hearing and believing that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. “You get what you deserve.” “You will get out only what you put in.” “You want respect? Earn it.” “You want love? Make yourself loveable.” These are just a few of the things we’ve been told over and over and over again. “This for that” comes as naturally to us as breathing. And it’s precisely these attached strings that make life heavy and hard.
What’s even worse, though, is when we think that, because this is the way the world works this must also be the way God works.
But what if it isn’t that way at all with God?
What if God’s love and acceptance of you were already completely secure? What if the only give-and-take in our relationship with God is that He takes our failures and gives us His forgiveness? What if when the Apostle Paul wrote, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love” he meant it? What if I told you that God meets our guilt with His grace, our messes with His mercy, and our shame with His salvation—seventy times seven? What if I told you that God only loves bad and broken people who blow it because bad and broken people who blow it are all that there are?
A no-strings-attached God is not what people (who think they’re good and strong) want, but it’s precisely what people (who know they’re bad and weak) need.
The gospel is NOT “you get out what you put in” (that would be bad news, not good news). Rather, it’s that the bad get the best, the worst inherit the earth, and the slave becomes a son. In other words, Jesus met all of God’s holy conditions so that our relationship with God could forever be wholly unconditional, based entirely on what Jesus has done for us, not on what we do or fail to do.
When it's all said and done, when all of the theological and ethical dust settles, it is grace (the seemingly chaotic, cavalier nature of God’s too-good-to-be-true, no-strings-attached, one-way love) that forms our inseparable connection to the God of repeat offenders. Full stop.