“Amazing and Uncomfortable Grace” Several years ago, there was an absolutely fascinating study done of America’s favorite music and one of the discoveries was that for many Americans one of their favorite songs is actually an old hymn, Amazing Grace. Perhaps you know how it goes: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” But what exactly is grace? And what makes it amazing? You know, when we use the word grace in ordinary conversation, we tend to downsize the word. We’ll say things like, “She’s a very graceful young woman,” and we mean she dances well. Or, “He’s a very gracious host,” and we mean he says nice things at dinner parties. We tend to use the word grace in small ways. But when the New Testament uses the word grace, it uses it in a very big way. It’s a powerful word. It’s an amazing word. In fact, it’s so powerful that sometimes grace can be quite uncomfortable. When the New Testament uses the English word grace, it’s actually the translation of a Greek word, charis, which means “gift.” And this is the New Testament’s way of saying that at the very center of life there is a God who is not a punitive judge or a scolding parent, but a God who gives gift after gift after gift. That’s grace.
Dr. Thomas Long is from Atlanta, Georgia, where he is Professor of Preaching at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Tom is a Presbyterian minister and the author of several books on the art of preaching. Read the Entire Sermon