A couple of weeks ago I was asked to lead communion at my church. I decided to use this story which I read on Jeff Goins’ blog. It is the story of a group of teenage convicts playing football against other high school teams. The coach asked people in the community to come and support these teenager convicts as they played. After I told the story and spoke about grace, I said this:

It’s a beautiful picture of what God does for us. God cheers for us, even though we have no right to expect it. We’ve failed to measure up to God’s standards for our life, nevertheless he is on our side, cheering and supporting us. When we experience grace like that it causes us to change. It’s not punishments and rules that make us change but rather it is grace that changes us from the inside out.

My intention in telling the story was that people would identify with prisoners. How it would have felt for the first time ever to have people cheering and supporting them. I suspect though it may have been more comfortable for my hearers to identify with those doing the cheering. We tend to think of ourselves as good people who help others. Yet we are also people in need of grace.

It reminds me of the story of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” But did he mean, “go and show mercy” or “go and receive mercy”? You see, the original question was, “who is my neighbour?” and the eventual answer, that Jesus tricked the ‘expert’ into saying was, my neighbour is the one who showed mercy (Luke 10:37). Consequently I am to love the one who shows mercy to me because really, it is me in the ditch needing help. (For a fuller explanation of this treatment of the Good Samaritan see Mark Buchanan’s book, The Holy Wild, pg. 113-116)

The point is, I too need grace to be shown to me and that is a good thought to ponder this Easter.

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