That's what the email from the Federal Loan Service that I got this week said. It's, of course, a reference to the fact that there's six months "grace period" after separation from a school before repayment on educational loans begins. But the statement really struck me as somewhat absurd.
You are halfway through Grace.
Gotta love the capital letter there. For those who are very rigid on what the author means by a statement, I'll warn you now that what follows is so loosely-connected, it might give you a panic attack.
How can this sentence make sense to the Christian? How do we even get halfway through Grace? From my own life experience, and growing up in the Church in North America, I know what it's like to wonder if you've reached the mid-point--or beyond-- to the limits of God's grace. It's a symptom of legalism--that constant heresy and temptation of the sinful heart. I know what it's like to wonder if "this next time is the last time" that I can experience grace. I know what it's like to say acknowledge--in my better moments--that grace can't be overcome by sin, but I might end up saved by the skin of my teeth.
And it's a lie. A total lie. Subtle and savory, and fluent in biblical speech enough to pass as native to Christian proclamation of the Gospel. It's how we so adamantly answer the Accuser's "Did God really say?"
Did God really say you are completely forgiven and receive the righteousness of Christ?
We are completely forgiven and receive the righteousness of Christ, but God did say 'Be holy as I am holy, and do your best to thank me by living a good Christian life.'
Friends, I've got one thing to say to that "and." To hell with it. One of the many presumptions of Eden is the need to add to what God has said to increase our self-assurance in the face of temptation. To hell with that. Instead, let's consider Martin Luther's example:
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”Because the God revealed fully in the person and work of Jesus Christ is not a God who puts us on notice: "You are halfway through Grace." This is the God of infinite mercy, eternal one-way love, and persisting forgiveness that will long outlast our sin. We have only begun to scratch the surface of experiencing Grace.