“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” ~ Lewis Carroll
When I’m grappling with a concept that’s too large for me, I often begin with synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms can help but they can also be misleading. Similar doesn’t equal same or even interchangeable.
I started this blog a year ago with the idea that I wanted to immerse myself in a concept that I knew was too foreign and fine and big for me to understand. There aren’t any synonyms for God’s grace. What could possibly parallel God’s free gift of unmerited favor?
Grace is contra-intuitive. I was more familiar with its antonym: indebtedness. I knew all about gifts with strings.
Sometimes it helps me understand what something is, by looking at what it isn’t.Grace isn’t logical or fair. That makes us uncomfortable. We, who call ourselves Christ-followers, are so afraid of it that we treat it like it’s a sin contagion. We have to quarantine grace to keep it from spreading.
Just like Humpty Dumpty’s use of glory as a nice knock-down argument, we’ve turned grace into something you say before you eat. It’s contained that way, not much danger of catching it or passing it on.
It’s as if we believe grace is something we made up, giving us the right to define it. The thing we keep forgetting is that grace was God’s idea. And when God uses a word, it means what He says it means – neither more nor less. He intends for it to be caught and spread. Grace is His gift, no strings.