Monday, November 8, 2010

Hungry Grace

When most people suspected Saul of Tarsus' conversion as being a trick to roast Christians, Barnabas saw true signs of the grace of God underneath the unchanged exterior of a notorious enemy of Jesus. Barnabas became Saul's advocate when very few would (Acts 9:26-28).

When Paul would later look upon John Mark as spineless and useless for the ministry due to his desertion of them at Pamphylia, Barnabas perceived signs of the grace of God underneath a timid and sometimes wavering young man. Barnabas became Mark's advocate when very few would (Acts 15:36-40); when it meant separation with Paul (btw. Paul would later seem to recant his estimation of Mark - 2 Tim. 4:11).

When Peter needed a trance and a thrice-repeated command from Jesus himself to accept the Gentiles as candidates for the gospel, and the elders of Jerusalem needed the appeals of Peter, Barnabas "witnessed the grace of God" in the Gentiles and "rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord" (Acts 11:22-23).

Barnabas was convinced that the power of the grace of God given through Jesus can and does change people. Moreover, Barnabas trained his eye to see the smallest seedling of grace sprouting in the expansive, hard, and hostile ground of people's lives...and proceeds to celebrate and encourage it where he sees it.

Thank you Barnabas for believing and modeling the gospel for us. Thanks for teaching us that the grace of God empowers a person to see hope in hopeless people: in people who are hostile towards God and man (Paul); with people who are weak, flaky, and cowardly (Mark); with people who are indifferent and unlikely to find the right path (The Gentiles). People like us.

Whenever the testimony of experience says, "look at how sin abounds," the testimony of grace boldly shouts back, "grace does much more abound."

In fact, grace has a voracious appetite. Grace looks at sin in broken people and salivates; the hunger pangs overwhelm; there is no sin not viewed as edible; no depravity viewed as unworthy of consumption. Grace is hungry.

Moreover, even the smallest bit of grace has both the hunger and capacity to consume the greatest of sin and sinners. And so the smallest amount of grace present in a person consumed by their own junk, is grounds for expectation.

I pray this morning that I would have far more confidence in the grace of God to change myself and others then I have had in the power of sin to keep us the way we are. God, train my eye to see grace when others only see ruin.