“Cheep” Grace – Romans 3:10,12
There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one (Christian Standard Bible).
Paul is quoting from the Psalms. As he ponders the Romans and the Roman pagan way, he senses that at heart, no one can know God by their own power.
Human nature, in its very core, is selfish, unrighteous. It does not seek understanding. People don’t want to do good because it detracts from their own selfish gains. Somehow, though, in the midst of selfishness, their stirs within us something deep and mysterious – an emptiness that can only be filled by the Holy One.
Not surprisingly, we live in a similar ‘Roman’ culture in the 21st century. Characterised by ungodliness, an astounding lack of understanding and an unreserved ‘development of self,’ we find the need for God muted behind our determined eyes which seek to live ‘my best possible life.’
We are like the real-life version of the Little Red Hen who asks her friends: ‘Who will help me plant the seeds?’ ‘Who will help me reap the wheat?’ ‘Who will help me mill the flour?’ ‘Who will help me bake the bread?’
Her friends have other things to do (or not to do) and they go about their busyness. In the end, after the bread as been baked, she asks, ‘Who will help me eat it?’ To which the friends, of course, are enthusiastic to help in that regard.
This is a fairy-tale like explanation of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls ‘cheap grace.’
Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
How do we navigate in this world that glorifies selfie-ishness when humility and confession are what is needed? By seeking Jesus through the power of the Spirit so that we can be utilised in building God’s kingdom (not necessarily baking bread) for the benefit of the world.
May God reveal his costly grace to you today.
Pr Reid Matthias