Saturday, October 24, 2009

If Grace Were a Color

If grace were a color, what color would it be? Some might say red, because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all our sin. Others might say white, because of the cleansing work of Jesus’ blood, we are made spotless and white as snow. Again, another beautiful picture of what occurs because of the atonement, but really. If we had to use known principles and laws of physics and nanometer electromagnetic wave lengths, what color would grace be?

Today I woke up later than usual. Monday through Friday I’m usually up not long after 5:00 AM. Sunday’s my alarm goes off at 4:00 AM. Saturday’s I don’t set an alarm, but I usually wake up about six o’clock. Today I slept till just after eight o’clock. It felt good. I’ve been sick so maybe I needed a bit more rest.

Anyway, I woke up slowly. Nursing a cup of fresh coffee, I sat down to watch the Saturday morning news shows (magazines) on Fox News. They had a guest musical group called Sister Hazel. They were pretty good. At least what little bit I heard of them. I’m sure they’ve been around a while; I’m just out of the music loop these days.

Finding a good band that sings about life without using gratuitous sexual imagery or violence is a good thing. Maybe that’s what these guys do, but as I listened to the song they played, these words came to my mind. Grace is Gray.

By the time they finished, and I was on to my third cup of Joe, I couldn’t shake those words. So I Googled the question: Are black and white colors? I found a great link to a site called Color Matters. Lots of great info on the science and even the psychology of color, but it only furthered my curiosity about the color of Grace.

About a month ago while I was at a ministry conference, one of the speakers was using the text from the Gospel of John chapter one where Jesus is referred to as the Light. John further states that “darkness” cannot “comprehend” or “understand” the Light. It was during that message that I began to ponder what light really means in terms of our relationship with God. The subject is enormous.

The passages in John are all too familiar for most of us, but how often do we really take into consideration the concepts of darkness (black) and light (white) in terms of their relative relationship to the grace of God? If you’re like most, you probably have not given one hour of thought to the matter.

Here are my introductory thoughts. If black, when referring to color and pigment, is the absence of color, then white is the presence of all color in the spectrum. When referring to black and white when it comes to light, there is no true “black” light. Black or darkness is simply the absence of light.

When you shine a bright light into the dark, unless there is an object out in the darkness somewhere for the light to reflect off of, the light just seems to disappear into the black.

If and when light does find an object to reflect off of, the color of the object appears the way it does, because some portion of the light spectrum is penetrating the object, and the rest of the light is bouncing off the object. For instance when we see a red apple, the pigment in the apple skin that allows for everything in the light spectrum to penetrate except for red, that is what causes us to see the apple as red. In other words, that particular nanometer electromagnetic band width is thrown back at us and we see red. All the while the other color wave lengths of light are penetrating the object.

Here are the thoughts that flooded my mind weeks ago regarding darkness and light. If Jesus is the Light, and I believe what the Bible says that He is, and prior to our receiving Him as Savior and Lord, we were nothing but darkness. By saying yes to Him as Savior, He then places something in us.

That something is His Spirit, and that Spirit is the beginning work of grace in our lives. Yet upon initial examination of God’s work in the new believer, one might not fully see the white light of God’s complete atoning work and sanctification in that person. God must first fill that person with objects of His grace, Spirit and renewal before more and more light can be reflected back out from that person. And that sometimes takes time.

We know from our study of scripture that there are at least three types of soil that receive the seed of God’s Word, but the quality of the soil is predicated upon the amount of God stuff a person accepts into their life. Or for that matter Jesus spoke about a spiritual analogy of a person being cleansed from demonic influence, yet not furnishing their soul house with new God stuff and the demons came back all the more powerful and destructive, because new God stuff was not put in the house.

You see, the more of God and God stuff we have inside of us, the more we will reflect His glory. The less of God and God stuff we have inside of us, the less we will reflect His glory. Ergo our ongoing need to be filled up with God and emptied out of us.

Anything that is not of God is dark and light just simply penetrates it. God’s light is not reflected off. But since God IS the substance of all things, the more of God one has in their life, the more light will be reflected from that life.

Here’s where my idea of grace being gray comes into play. The color gray is a color that is allowing only half of the light spectrum to penetrate, and the other half reflects back.

Since I without Christ am nothing but black, not able to reflect anything what so ever, the very beginnings of God’s presence in my life, a little bit of God substance in me, may very well reflect back an image that appears slightly gray. You know, not fully sanctified and reflecting all of God that is possible, but only reflecting measured amounts of God’s handy work.

I think this way because, the times that I need more of God’s grace, are the times I need less of me and more of Him. So my life kind of looks gray from the outside looking in. Not entirely black and doomed for all eternity, but not entirely illuminated to the place of pure white light. Just kind of, well you know, gray.

And the funny thing is, most religious people can’t accept the color gray when it comes to grace. They cite Jesus’ words to the Laodicean church about being “lukewarm” and stuff like that. They say (I’ve said it too) we are too be “hot” or “cold”. And with that I would agree, but the truth is that most Christians are simply lukewarm. They’re gray. Not black as the ace of spades nor white and pure as the driven snow. Just gray!

Yet we’re condemned (I’ve condemned) for being noncommittal or apathetic. We’re called carnal, even sinful. Still my contention is that most of us who are recipients of God’s grace are kind of tweedy gray.

Granted, we all know and love the party line about Christian growth and victory, but when it comes down to it, most of the Christians that I know (even ministers) are just plain gray. They’re not setting the world on fire for Jesus, because they’re too caught up on this week’s episode of The Office. Or they not out setting the world on fire for Jesus, because they’re too caught up working as much over time as they can, because they live above they’re means. Or simply put, they’re just spiritually lazy.

Now I ask you, are you the powerhouse Christian you should be? Are you the mover and shaker you should be? Are you saving the planet like you should be? Right, me too, we’re not. So what color is grace?

What color is this beautiful element that God so richly and freely gives to us all? I say it’s gray. Because that’s what it looks like to me. That’s what it really appears to look like, in all reality.

I had lunch Friday with a dear pastor friend of mine. We’ve known each other for many years. It had been a while since we talked. He’s moved away to a different part of the state, but had business in town this week so we shared a meal together.

We talked about the church he was pastoring and the challenges that he was facing. But more than that, we talked about the “grayness” of our fellowship. We talked about the lack of integrity and purity in the pulpit today. We talked about the pain pastors are feeling these days.

Frankly, it was a heavy conversation, but it all the more emphasized what I’m trying to hash out. Grace is gray. Because if grace is not gray then, lot’s of ministers are heading for hell. And millions of congregants with them!

Screw the sinners who don’t know Jesus, what about the “Christians” that are nothing more than gray when it comes to grace? Either they’re all lost or grace really is gray. And if that’s the case, if integrity and purity really don’t matter, then let’s just get drunk and forget the whole thing.

I know the Father probably weeps over the brokenness of His Church, but either grace works or it doesn’t. If it does, then we’re all safe. If it doesn’t, there will be hell to pay on judgment day.

At this writing, I think Grace is Gray. Oh I’ll probably get some negative feed back, but that’s okay. Hell, I don’t know anyone who is able to tell me they are pure as the driven snow while here on earth, so I’m thinking gray is the color.

I know that by faith we are 100% justified in the Father’s sight, but look around. Find me one person that’s 100% sanctified and I’ll show you pure white grace. Most of us are simply just gray.

My advice, get a tie that looks nice and contrasts with the color gray. Don’t worry, almost every color works with gray.

Well there’s my thinking on the Color of Grace. Oh I know more could be said, but I’m feeling kind of gray right now so I’ll let you go.

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