by Carmen Kamrath
I absolutely love a great story; one that draws me into the plot and surprises me along the way. God’s story is one that consistently amazes me—just when I think I know some of the scenes like the back of my hand, there goes God—surprising me with a new revelation in His script.
As we move through chapters two through five in The Grace of God, be prepared to see new and insightful things in the familiar stories of Abraham, Joseph and Moses. We often associate grace with Jesus and the New Testament, but Andy Stanley reveals how God’s grace has been present since the beginning, and God continuously reveals His grace throughout the Old Testament.
No one in my house would label me as “the queen of clean.” Not that I don’t love a clean house, but my nature is more a bit messy; I’d rather sit down and have a good conversation with my kids after dinner than do the dishes. At some point, however, the dishes need to be done. More times than I care to admit, my husband swoops in and quietly cleans up the mess after I’ve fallen asleep. Walking into the kitchen to see the sink empty and the light on the dishwasher flashing “done” is truly a gift. After all, it was my mess. My husband doesn’t have to buy me fancy jewelry or exotic trips—cleaning up my mess in the kitchen is a daily welcomed and appreciated gift.
And so it is with grace—God moved in to clean up the mess created by the human race. God turned to Abraham and asked him for his trust. God invited Abraham into relationship with Him, a friendship that in time would be extended to the entire world. Through Abraham, God began the story of reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption.
Reap What You Sow
This concept isn’t foreign for us—we learn from a young age that if we study and work hard, our efforts will result in a good grade. As teens, we discovered that if we stayed out past curfew, the consequence would be a grounding from going out for a while. So, sometimes it’s hard to grasp the concept of grace—because it means clearly receiving something when we don’t deserve it.
Andy Stanley reviews the familiar story of Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery. There were some consequences for Joseph’s brothers along the way, but the big reveal comes later when they discover that Joseph is actually alive and well. He could have punished his brothers but instead, Joseph extends grace. For Joseph’s brother, Judah, it probably came as quite a surprise. But out of Judah’s lineage, we discover a Savior is one day born.
Rules, Rules, Rules
In Chapters Four and Five, Andy looks at Moses and the Ten Commandments. Why have rules if God extends grace? In these chapters, we see how the Ten Commandments are actually an expression of God’s grace; it’s where the story of grace is introduced. The Commandments given to Moses were initiated for an eternal purpose—to expose our sin and demonstrate our need for a Savior.
Think On This
How do you develop trust in someone? Why is trust important in a relationship? Describe a time when you received a gift that you didn’t earn or deserve. How did that experience make you feel? How does the law ultimately provide us with freedom? How is God’s grace working itself in your life this week?