Andy Stanley’s newest book, The Grace of God, is beautiful. But how could it be anything else?
Sometimes when I read a book I’m impressed with the author. Other times I’m just bowled over by new, exciting ideas. Not with this book—There isn’t much new or extraordinarily artistic or creative here. Instead, I crawled up inside truths I’ve known since childhood, and found peace in the warm, life-giving grace of God.
The Grace of God traces grace through Bible stories from Old Testament to New. It’s not original—no unique, mind-blowing insights to speak of. It’s almost too familiar, in fact. I found myself putting the book down time and time again, feeling like I already knew this stuff. But finally I committed to reading. I decided to open my heart to old truths. And I’m so glad I did.
Coming from a church heritage suspicious of grace, I couldn’t help but interject as I read. I wondered aloud, “Yeah, but what do you mean by that?” and “But what about…?” I was exhausted with myself only three or four chapters in and frustrated that I couldn’t just embrace grace, that every discussion of grace had to be a discussion of grace and works.
Stanley evidently felt the tension, too. In his last chapter he admits that he struggles to let grace stand on its own. But he said adding a chapter on obedience seemed strange. Because the book is about grace.
I loved his assertion, “Jesus didn’t try to balance grace and truth. He gave a full dose of both.”
That’s what I’d like to do. When I talk about grace I want to talk about grace and not feel like I need to qualify it to death. And then, when I talk about obedience, I want to talk about obedience and not feel compelled to qualify that.
Jesus often sits two seemingly contradictory truths—each one absolutely and fully right—on a table side-by-side without making any attempt to resolve the tension between them. But we human beings hate tension and so we water down grace and we water down obedience and totally dilute both.
Grace is too big to be couched in obedience. And obedience is too important to be chained to grace.
P.S. Stanley’s chapter on Nicodemus is crazy-cool. Stanley suggests that Nicodemus may be have been the only person at the cross who fully understood what was going on, the whole cosmic scale of it. :)