Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the penitential season that helps us prepare for Easter. Not all Christians choose the celebrate this season, but I think we all agree that it’s important to take time to intentionally examine ourselves, recommit ourselves to prayer, and carefully reflect on Jesus’ life and ministry.
I was reminded when I read Shane Vander Hart’s post today that Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of the latest 40 Days for Life campaign. 40 Days for Life is an event which seeks to minister to unborn children, abortion providers, and parents through a time of focused prayer and fasting. I like that they take time to pray for all those affected by abortion, not just the mothers and children. It’s not too late for you to join them this season, and not too early to start planning for the next campaign later this year.
Lots of people are blogging their own reflections today (our own Matt Anderson is one!), but my favorite comes from Sarah, who points us to Dietrich Bonhoeffer (sorry, I don’t know offhand where this passage is from):
“That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace, on the other hand, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must the asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
I hope you have a fruitful and blessed Lent!