Sara Jane Olsen achieved the American Dream. She, along with her physician husband and three children, lived an upper-middle-class lifestyle in the suburbs of St. Paul, MN. A mini-van driving soccer mom, Sara Jane was an accomplished cook who hosted lavish dinner parties. She had the perfect life but it was all a lie.
In March and May of 1999 America's Most Wanted posted the picture of Kathleen Ann Soliah, the only remaining fugitive of a bank robbery and failed attempt to bomb two police cars in California. A member of the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Soliah had avoided arrest for almost 25 years. Her photo was broadcast twice in hopes that someone would recognize it and call in a tip. Someone did and Sara Jane Olsen's carefully constructed world unraveled quickly.
Offered a deal, Sara Jane plead guilty. 911 occurred and Sara Jane feared that any terrorist, even a reformed one, stood little chance with a jury trial. She changed tactics and declared her innocence to the press. The trial judge wasn't amused and told her he didn't know which version of her story to believe. The Associated Press reported that the judge told Sara she couldn't have it both ways. She was convicted and sent to jail.
Thanks be to God that we get to have it both ways!
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV).
Am I guilty of every sin I have or will ever commit? Absolutely! Can I obtain a “Not Guilty” verdict from The Righteous Judge? Yes I can. The blood of Jesus is my defense and it works every time! I'm now the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21. How? Its by God's grace.
There is uproar in the church at present over the issue of grace: hyper-grace, uber-grace, greasy grace and so forth. For the record, I'm in the grace camp. To be clear, grace is never a license to sin-ever. The wages of sin are still death. Death in any form is a meal I can afford to miss. Why forfeit life?
I'm hyper-grace because:
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It (grace) teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” Titus 2:11-12 (NIV).
I'm still a work in progress and I can use all the help I can get. If grace can to teach me to be more like God, I'm open for instruction.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us...” Ephesians 1:7-8 (ESV).
“Riches.....lavished.” Seems to me that when it comes to grace God doesn't skimp.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound to every good work” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV).
God views grace as a vital component for successful living. He super-sizes portions of grace to us in order to fulfill His purposes through us – and all without any extra calories! I'll have an extra helping please.
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men” Luke 2:52 (NIV).
Favor in Greek is charis. This same word is translated grace throughout the New Testament. Apparently Jesus needed grace in order for Him to fulfill His destiny. If He needed it, I do too. He was sinless and that is a goal worth pursuing.
To use God's grace as an excuse to sin is a cop-out. We have free will. With the ability to choose comes the consequences of our actions, both good and bad. Grace doesn't provide us lee-way to play the fool, just the opposite. Grace changed my perspective of how God looked at me. His opinions trump all others. As one now counted righteous in His eyes I'm motivated to not sin.
How about you? How can God's super-abundant grace empower you in your daily life? How would a shift of emphasis from being a rotten old sinner to being righteous in God's eyes change your outlook and your behavior? With God, we really can have it both ways.