Shane Claiborne delivered a message this afternoon titled, “The Scandal of Grace”. The thought that grace is scandalous is the essence of the reason why I chose this out of dozens of other competing seminars. What Shane had to say was nothing new to the ears of Christ followers, but it was undeniable something fresh and yes, something scandalous.
Grace is a transforming liberation that is lavishly poured out from the heart of God to his beloved. However, it is a gift few choose to embrace and more often than I like to admit, I too fail to embrace the richness of grace.
There were a few thoughts throughout the message the perked my attention and demanded further processing. One of those thoughts is, “what would the world look like if we saw people in the image of God?” The church (and I am very much included in this) likes to claim that all are welcome – the beggars, the broken, the smelly and the dirty, the socially awkward and the risky. But the reality is this... only those who have their crap together (whether they truly do or whether they are living one fatty façade, it doesn’t matter) are the ones invited to exchange the holy Eucharist. Just look inside the walls of those who fill the pews and you will find the truth behind this reality. The ones that come are the freshly bathed, the rich, the ‘Jones’s’, the intellectuals and the safe.
My youth group is filled with teenagers who come from ridiculously wealthy families. They attend private schools, the receive bmw’s for their 15 birthday, their college tuition is completely covered, and the jeans they wear cost the same price as a vehicle. I love my students and they are in need of the unfailing love of Christ as much as anybody else. But I wonder, what if we met together on the streets of San Diego rather than the finely decorated wall of our youth room? What if our curriculum was engaging in conversations and friendships with the unschooled and the unloved? The larger church that I worship at exemplifies wealth better than anything I have ever encountered and to this I pose the same questions. What if our sanctuary was filled with the homeless and the precious belongings they carry with them? What if instead of impeccable displays of media entertainment there was displays of humility and selflessness? What if the sermons were the radical stories of those living on the streets or the horrific pictures of the human sex trafficking that takes place in our community? What if???
The truth is we are all broken, we are all dirty, and we all smell funny. We are all in desperate need of the liberating scandal of grace. We are all created in the image of God.