Seriously? Another book on grace?
Trust me, this one will be different. I promise you.
This book stems from half a dozen years of teaching the Old Testament in a college setting. You might think this would produce a book about judgment, perhaps a book on hell, but no way. The Old Testament is all about grace. I tell my students that the reason we don’t offer a course on grace is because we already offer several courses on the Old Testament. A class on grace would be redundant, superfluous, a swift kick to an already dead horse.
The Old Testament is a kaleidoscope of grace. And this book will admire its beauty. Genesis, Exodus, even Judges and Kings – they’re all greedy to be read by tired Christians seeking rest. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea – all singularly fixated upon God’s stubborn grace. The Old Testament is one thick, adventurous narrative of God’s reckless love toward unlovable people. Grace. Charis.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Without giving too much away, let me give a couple of warnings.
First, grace is a dangerous topic. We often want to domesticate it, calm it down, stuff it into a blue blazer and a pair of khakis. But Biblical grace – or Charis, as you’ll see – doesn’t like to settle down. It doesn’t drive a minivan and it sometimes misses church. To prove this, we’re going to venture on a journey across the land of Israel, and I’m not bringing a pacifier. If you need to scream, I’ll roll down the window. If you want to get off in the next town, sorry, doors are locked. Grace is a dangerous topic because the Bible is a dangerous book. It wrecks people, it offends people, and it’s tough to read from the suburbs. If you’re under eighteen, you might want to find another book on grace. There are plenty out there.
Second, I’m not going to thoroughly explain how obedience fits in with grace. That is, not until the epilogue. In my experience, there are way too many, “Yes, grace, but….” qualifications to this risky truth, and they usually end up offending grace and celebrating our response to God. The epilogue will talk about our response to God. But the rest of the book will revel in God’s response to us. I guess you could say I’m emphasizing only one side of the coin. Perhaps. But let’s study that side, admiring its details and adoring its beauty. We often flip the coin around too quickly.
Jesus, may these words capture a glimpse of your boundless grace. Peel back our eyes and rip open our chests. Let us see and experience, know and cherish your stubborn delight in undelightful people. If this book doesn’t honor you, then please cause it not to sell. Amen.