Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, which he gave to us in such large measure! [Ephesians 1:6-7 (GNT)]
Several years ago, the pastor at our Colorado church preached a series on grace. Since God’s grace is both extravagant and unearned, he wanted the community to receive some unmerited gifts from our church as an expression of God’s grace. Anyone who wanted to participate in this demonstration received a ten dollar bill and was asked to use the money in a way that would spread God’s grace and love.
Members of the Spanish congregation made tamales and delivered them to the people vital to the migrant population in the community: the social service workers and volunteers at the food pantry and re-sale shop. When they walked into the offices of the food pantry with their tamales, imagine the surprise when the staff and volunteers realized that someone was bringing them food instead of taking it away! That same joy and surprise was expressed when a wagonload of tamales was pulled into the area social services’ office.
The teen youth group met the challenge by sharing God’s grace with the local police and sheriff’s deputies. Thinking that donuts were too predictable a gift for law enforcement, the teens purchased assorted breath mints and gum and delivered them to the officers. Smiles were shared all around and some of God’s grace was passed along.
One family combined their money and then doubled it with their own donations. Learning of a student who was unable to participate in a field trip because of the expense, they arranged a scholarship for her by finding another donor who would match their funds. A Bible study group knew of a family in need of assistance and decided to prepare and freeze dinners and to give to them. The group then agreed to continue this practice every month for a different family in need. When a church member’s co-worker broke into tears of frustration at work, she gave her the ten dollar grace gift with the instructions to take a break at Starbucks and enjoy a latte and muffin.
The final experiment in passing along God’s grace was when members of the congregation donated money so that free gas could be offered to the community. One Sunday, a special offering of $5,000 was collected. The following Saturday, seventy volunteers manned the pumps at two gas stations. Church members pumped ten dollars of gas into the tank of any car that arrived at the stations. While they were at it, they even washed car windows! There was no catch or hidden agenda to getting the free gas; nobody had to listen to a spiritual message and no religious pamphlets were distributed. The only things shared were smiles, free gas, and God’s love. In fact, when a few cars were still in line after the money ran out, volunteers paid for the last gallons of gas from their own pockets! Over five hundred people received a bit of grace that afternoon!
The point of all this: God’s grace is epic and extravagant; it’s totally unearned and underserved. All we have to do is accept it and then share it.
The secret of life is that all we have and are is a gift of grace to be shared. [Lloyd John Ogilvie]