(p14) Author Stephen Brown notes that a veterinarian can learn a lot about a dog owner he has never met just by observing the dog. What does the world learn about God by watching his followers on earth? Trace the roots of grace, or charis in Greek, and you will find a verb that means ‘I rejoice, I am glad’. In my experience, rejoicing and glamour are the first images that come to mind when people think of the church. They think of holier-than-thous. They think of church as a place to go after you have cleaned up your act, not before. They think or morality, not grace. “Church!” said the prostitute, “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse!”
See the back of the book:
In 1987, an IRA bomb buried Gordon Wilson and his twenty-year-old daughter beneath five feet of rubble. Gordon alone survived. And forgave. He said of the bombers, “I have lost my daughter, but I bear no grudge…I shall pray, tonight and every night, that God will forgive them.” His words caught the media’s ear–and out of one man’s grief, the world got a glimpse of grace. Grace is the church’s great distinctive. It’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate, and the one thing it craves above all else–for only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world.
In What’s So Amazing About Grace? award-winning author Philip Yancey explores grace at street level. If grace is God’s love for the undeserving, he asks, then what does it look like in action? And if Christians are its sole dispensers, then how are we doing at lavishing grace on a world that knows far more of cruelty and unforgiveness than it does of mercy? Yancey sets grace in the midst of life’s stark images, tests its mettle against horrific “ungrace.” Can grace survive in the midst of such atrocities as the Nazi holocaust? Can it triumph over the brutality of the Ku Klux Klan? Should any grace at all be shown to the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and cannibalized seventeen young men? Grace does not excuse sin, says Yancey, but it treasures the sinner. True grace is shocking, scandalous. It shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to sinners and touching them with mercy and hope. It forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day. In his most personal and provocative book ever, Yancey offers compelling, true portraits of grace’s life-changing power. He searches for its presence in his own life and in the church. He asks, How can Christians contend graciously with moral issues that threaten all they hold dear? And he challenges us to become living answers to a world that desperately wants to know, What’s So Amazing About Grace?
As Christians, we need to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace and forgiveness – and give the same out to other people. We have to understand this at more than a theological level – at an emotional and living level.
Yancey gives plenty of examples in this highly readable book, including Dietrich Bonheoffer who was persecuted by the Nazis – he concluded that to ‘love your enemies’ and pray for them whilst they persecute you was the very thing that sets a Christian apart from others – he believed that as God has forgiven our debts and loved his enemies – we should do the same.
Prepared for use as an Oak Hall Leader.