If one grew up in especially a Calvinist strain of fundamentalism/evangelicalism, they at some time probably heard a sermon or read something about the difference between “common” grace and “saving” grace—or common and special grace.
The idea is that there are two types of God’s grace. There is the “common” sort that everybody experiences, whether they know or recognize the source or not. A typical Bible verse used to support this notion is Matthew 5:45:
“[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
The good fortune anyone enjoys, whether they are a Christian or not, is because of the common grace provided by God’s abundant and prodigious generosity and love. Thus, whether sinner or saint, jerk or the nice guy, both feel the same sun and rain, breathe the same air, and share in the many common blessings of existence.
If we were to consider one of the parables of Jesus (Matthew 20), we see the workers who showed up at the end of the work day were paid the same as those who showed up in the morning and worked all day.
And then, according to some, there is “special” or “saving” grace. This is only for a few. Who gets this type of grace? Don’t worry about it. It’s inscrutable. In fact, how dare you even ask? Who are you, oh man, to question such things? If you get this grace (it’s like winning the lottery) you will know. You just will. Anyway, that is sort of the Calvinist take on it.
Organized Religion seems too often a man-made construct to divide everything into good or bad, saved or lost, in or out, heaven or hell, winners or losers, raptured or the left behind, clean or unclean, rather than a mediation that tries to interpret and provide general and loose boundaries for the divine to work in this life—and to bridge divisions, to help (by grace) bring creation together.
To the extent it fails to do such, is it demonic? I wonder. The attempts (of those who consider themselves under the star of some “special” favor/election) to carve out a grace just for “us” or a few is both sad and probably a sign of our fallenness. I also wonder if there is just too much money and power at stake in keeping the divisions going.
I believe the scandal of the cross, of the life of Jesus, of the redeeming purpose of his course in this world was to disabuse us of any such notions—the idea of these types of divisions.
It’s all “common” grace if we could even call such “common.” There is nothing common about it although it is the very fabric of existence. It is extravagant and inclusive to the point of a mind bending, heart rending, soul enchanting displacement that shatters our concepts of such things, as we experience it anyway, east of Eden.
For God though, I think it’s as easy as Sunday morning. It just is. There is no other way, but grace. God is love. A love expressed in grace, one grace, a grace for all.
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