Romance of Grace teaches many important truths, some of them being things I had never considered deeply before. These are three things I was amazed at...
~We can do nothing on our own. And, I can earn nothing from God on my own. All I am blessed with is a gift, unmerited, undeserved from the hand of my Father.
~We are obsessed by morality, not transformation.
~Desire is not eliminated when one becomes a Christian, it is redeemed.
Romance of Grace was startling... and then it began making real sense. This is a book that reminds us of what is so Amazing about Grace. Grace was revolutionary when it was first preached...have we lost it now? Lets read this book and remember.
1. I was reading along, and there is a section on the great commandment to Love God with all our Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. Mr. McNeely tells us we can't do it- we just can't love God this way. At first I said "How can that be? We are commanded to!" And then I read further and thought...It is true. I can't love God this way! I don't! If it was up to me to get to God then I would be lost. I can't love Him perfectly and consistently. I can't keep this command.
And that made me think- well, then I really can't do anything!
And that is The Point. I can't do anything.
Isn't that the idea of Grace- that we can't reach God, God reaches us? We can't Love God, He Loves us?
Isn't this what John says, Not that we Loved Him but that He first Loved us?
Why should I object to the idea that I am wholly at God's mercy and in desperate need of His grace even to love Him? Grace meets us when we are reduced to nothing, doesn't it? And then Grace gives us so much more than we can ever imagine. I knew that all I receive from God was pure unmerited favor...but it amazes my heart to hear it again in Romance of Grace.
"The community of the redeemed is a community of those who are given a huge abundance of undeserved gifts. Heaven is the place for those who receive scandalously unmerited riches in lavish abundance. The citizens of Heaven will become accustomed to receiving lavish gifts and riches that they never earned..."
2. Grace is transformation, Christ's life for our death, not more mere morality. As C. S. Lewis said, God makes new men, not better old men. Applying morality is like applying make up to a dead body, whereas Grace gives life to the dead. Christians need not be afraid of preaching strong Grace. Grace produces new men. The dedication in this book says it all..."Most people encouraged me not to go too far with the idea of Grace, he challenges me to go further and deeper into Grace."
As Tullian Tchividjian says, this Grace will frighten you and free you, startle you and save you.
3. And the third, fascinating point that really stood out- Desire is not removed, it is redeemed by God.
Mr. McNeely uses this example. When you ask a woman how she is, and she says she is being "good", she means morally good. She means she is restraining herself from what she wants.
If you saw her eating a chocolate sundae later and asked how it was, she would say "It is Good!" To her, what is right to do is not a delightful thing to do and she thinks all the delightful things are on the forbidden side of the fence. There is a split in her two definitions of Good. Aesthetic Good, pleasurable good, delightful delicious good, and right, Moral good.
The split began in Eden, when Eve stopped seeing what God wanted her to do as the delightful thing to to...she began seeing something else as "good-desirable."
That is where the war of desire begins. We now call that temptation, the war of the flesh between what we want and what God wants for us.
What is God's answer for this? "Imagine that God intends to restore us- to heal this terrible wound, this gaping division in our inner souls. Imagine that He wants to remove this need...to constantly go against what we want and to do what we do not want...Imagine that God wants to refashion us somehow so that our real desire does not run against what is right. What, eventually, would this healing, this obedience from the heart look like? What kind of world would the kingdom of God look like if it really did come down to earth? It would look like Grace!"
Only Grace can transform us to want what He wants for us again... to call His will Good. And that is the transformation God intends to wrought.
And what will we find in Grace? What are we invited into?
"We are invited into a world where it is no longer we who live but Christ...we are forgiven so that the barriers to the entrance into this world are removed so that we may come boldly into this throne of Grace...this is the world to which we are invited because we are greatly loved. In all of the universe no other but the Church is named as His Bride, the angels and the very universe itself longs to see the revelation of Christ's exquisite and beautiful Bride, and this is what we are."
The holy joy of strong Grace! That is what this book preaches.
I received Romance of Grace from the author through Cross Focused Reviews.
Therefore Now, Mr. McNeely's website.