My youngest daughter, Leah, attends a local preschool three mornings a week. In October I began working there two mornings a week. Although Leah is in the 3’s class I assist in the 2’s. These eight little people have really touched my heart. At first, it was just a very convenient way to have Leah in preschool and me work a few hours along with her being there. But it didn’t take long for me to see these unique tots for the very special and God-designed individuals they would be. The teacher I assist and I have many laughs at how you can already see the different personalities in them. Yes…the type A, I don’t want to get my hands dirty and everything in its proper order…the artsy sure to be a granola kind of girl…the total leader of the pack–the alpha-female–who is as smart as any 2-year-old I’ve met…the sanguine “look at me” who has future cheerleader written all over her…the mischievious yet affectionate brown-eyed boy whose high school teachers will be unable to dislike him for his charm…and one so close to my heart, the complete “all-boy” of the pack yet a sweet heart and adorable way of talking (and can actually say my name). Having the opportunity to make a million bathroom trips and play with them on the floor has been a richer experience than I would have expected. I mean, I have my own kids! But you know what? I think there is something very basic and Jesus-like about doing the things in life that are the least “flashy.” There is a reward in investing our time in ways that bring no glory…no accolades…no attention or real thanks, even. It’s servanthood. Yes, assisting in the 2’s class this year has been about serving with a right heart, with the right perspective.
Along with these little cuties, I have been getting to know a few fabulous women. Yesterday, in passing, I had a brief conversation with two of them about grace. One of the teachers was talking about taking care of something herself that really she wasn’t responsible for doing…but she has a tender heart and was thinking of making life easier for someone else. We talked about how she was giving grace and she said Oh yes! I thought I was being a sucker! We all kind of laughed and I said…well, sometimes grace feels like a sucker!
Have you ever felt that way? You wanted to do the right thing to help someone out but really they didn’t “deserve” it? You were maybe taking on the brunt of a broken rule or policy yourself out of a heart of compassion, but it felt like you were being a sucker? If so, check this out:
Romans 5:6-8 (the message) Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
According to the way we live and evaluate our “rights” and just penalties, Jesus would have been a sucker. He gave His very life, in a torturous way, for even the least deserving. Humanity broke all the rules. Humanity spit in His face. Humanity, in the face of miraculous healings and provision, cried out “crucify him, crucify him.” And you know what? God in the flesh, who could have called down every angel of Heaven, took it. Jesus let them whip Him senseless. Jesus let them drive nails into His hands and feet. Jesus was on full display on that hillside for six hours. A crown of thorns piercing His flesh. A bloody mess…mocked by those who taunted Him…He saves others but can’t save Himself. No, no. Jesus didn’t have to do it. Jesus could have, at any time, backed out or resisted. But Jesus was God in the flesh, and God is love. Not the kind we know about. God is love that makes little sense to our pay your penalty, you made your own bed, and you reap what you sow kind of living.
Grace, this undeserved expression of God’s love…this Jesus favoring us, suffering for us –despite us — is what bridges the gap between humanity and God. A Holy God and an unruly, sinful people reunited for eternity because Jesus was emptied of Himself and full of grace. So, next time grace feels like a sucker, and sometimes it feels that way, I can remember Jesus on the Cross. Giving up His rights so that I can live…know love…be healed and free. Jesus, looking like a sucker to some, but completely certain of His mission. Certain of the outcome. See, it’s those willing to be a “sucker” for love and grace that experience the resurrection and the life.
Jesus, alive and well, seated today at the right hand of the Father smiling at my friend from preschool. Rooting her on…let the world say what they will…grace and love feels like Jesus.