Would you like to win the lottery? That seems like an absurd question to ask doesn’t it? It’s FREE MONEY. There’s no way for this to be a bad thing. If you lose it all, at worst, you are no worse off than when you first started. Say that to the 8 people in this old article that I dug up.
You want a million dollars? Ten million? Ask yourself this question, first. Do you even deserve it? Why would you want something you did not earn?
Now, not all people squander their lottery winnings. Who are the ones that do? It tends to be the ones with poor financial acumen. Surprising? It shouldn’t be. If they didn’t understand money, if they didn’t have some intuitive grasp on how wealth is accumulated or how wealth is lost then they could never keep it.
So, why then I wonder is God’s grace so different? I’m thankful for it certainly, this pardon that I’ve received freely, which cost God so much, but I can’t help thinking that because I did not earn it, it can never be fully mine. Everything meaningful it seems, is meaningful because it is earned.
The love of another, the love between two mates, this I firmly believe, should be earned. Their mutual choice should arise out of their soul’s response to virtues. I choose you, beloved, because in you I see what I value. And in response, the lover should be likewise chosen, because of values. By values, I don’t mean beliefs or political stances. It could be as simple as a nice, round butt or firm breasts, bulging biceps or a powerful chest. Value could be wealth, could be education, it could be because this person will continue to supply me with drugs for a few weeks. And yes, of course, value could be things that are truly valuable as well, kindness, compassion, integrity, confidence. Anything could be a value… so long as you value it. Attraction, love, isn’t this, the commodity so highly valued by songs, Hollywood, magazine columns, ultimately traded value for value and not given freely?
What is acquired for little cannot be esteemed for much, no? Think for a moment of what life must be like for beautiful women as they are endlessly harassed by comments from men all day long. “Hey, shawty, looking FINE today!” “Hey beautiful, I just wanna talk to you for a minute!” Or at the bar, how many suits would approach offering to buy a drink, the number of doors held open for a smile, the number of winks from strangers. Is there a beautiful woman to whom any of these comments is valuable? She must know that the mouth that said it to her will just as easily say it to the next female in 5 or 10 minutes. The offer to buy a drink will just move on to the next woman if she says ‘no’. Those comments and advances given so freely mean so little.
I believe it was at a VBS class where this happened. “God sent his only son Jesus to die on a cross so that you could be saved. Do you know how much the Father loved Jesus?” “Well, it couldn’t have been very much if he died for me.” Now the right answer is actually, the Trinity lives in perfect love and harmony so this was the most painful act in history which is a testament to the love that God has for his creation, but the sarcastic answer lingers still in my mind. If it is indeed a free gift, how can it be worthwhile?
Now, I confess freely that gifts are not my love language in any which way. Things that other people give me don’t mean much to me unless they’re useful; a shirt I can wear, a knife I can cut with, a pan I can cook with. And even then it’s only meaningful to me because it’s useful. I try to comprehend how a gift can be meaningful apart from its function but the grasping of such a concept remains outside of my ability. If I can’t use it, why would it be meaningful?
And more than that, as the case of the lottery winners show, if you come into possession of something you could never acquire by your own virtue, you will most likely lose it by that same lack of virtue. In that way, what is this grace, this Christian grace? Something I’ve been given, that I could never earn, and told that I could never lose, because I never earned it. And moreover, what will that end result, that far-off “Heaven” be like? For me, I want to cross the finish line at Kona because I feel that would be the ultimate reward for sacrifice, for waking up at 5 am, for pushing my body, my spirit further than was ever comfortable. I want my reward to be a result of my effort. I don’t want it to be handed out so easily.
Upon reflection, I am incredibly thankful for grace, for a “relationship with God” as the catchphrase goes. But at the same time, I’m also deeply disturbed that it even exists as well, and that it exists apart from my own power to will or do otherwise.