unconditional grace

Posted: January 9, 2011 in Outreach
Tags: , , , , ,

Like a lot of you, I’ve been mesmerized by the story of Ted Williams, the “homeless man with the golden voice” who became an internet sensation this week. Just in case you are relying on rep.li.cate as your sole source of news, here’s the story…

For the first part of the week, I was motivated by one thought: “this is why we do what we do; you just never know.”  You never know who you might find on the street.  I’ve met guys with masters degrees and guys with law degrees.  Some have made mistakes that landed them on the streets and some have just been the victim of life’s twists and turns.  The next guy you help might have the potential to be a great leader, or actor, or musician, so we’ve got to keep working.

Towards the end of the week, I became consumed with another thought:  “what about all the ‘worthless-bums’ out there?”  Let’s face it.  We are moved by the story of Ted Williams because he has a “special gift” – he has the capacity to entertain us.  What about the homeless man who would be a great truck driver or the woman who would make a great nurse?  But really, what about the homeless who have no redeeming quality at all?  Are they any less deserving of our compassion?  Comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted this week: “Here’s my idea of a heartwarming story: a homeless man with no special talent gets our compassion anyway.”  Well said.

It’s human nature to judge – to place a value on the life of an individual.  It’s almost exclusively based on outward things.   The danger is that we do the same thing with God.  We use the same kind of scale to determine our own value to him.  We conclude that He should care for us because we have some redeeming quality.  The reality is that, before God, we’re all “worthless bums.”  Scripture teaches that, because of sin,  even the very best we have to offer is like “filthy rags” before the Holy Creator of the universe.

The good news is that, though He is holy and just, he is also gracious and compassionate.  The Apostle Paul wrote that when we were “utterly hopeless, Christ came.” THAT is where my worth lies. That is why I, Ted Williams and all the other bums are so valuable.

Interesting note: I started this post this morning before church and I’m finishing it in the afternoon. One of the songs we sang was Mighty to Save.  The first line starts, “Everyone needs compassion.” Check it out:

Coming to terms with a biblical view of worth changes everything.  It changes how we feel about ourselves, which in turn will affect every relationship in our lives.   It should also affect our capacity for compassion.  So I guess the title of this post is redundant.  Grace is, by definition, unconditional.  After all, aren’t we all “worthless bums”?

  1. Matt says:

    Great post. The comedian was right on with his tweet.

  2. Brad Raby says:

    Right on the money!

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