I had a dream just now as I was awakening . . . that is often when I have my most vivid dreams.
I dreamt we were back in World War II and we were bringing some German prisoners of war into Virginia Beach (that actually happened at lot–one of our favorite restaurants, Steinhilbers, is on the site of a former German POW camp).
They were being brought in by a fellow professional in my field who happens to have been born in Germany right after the war. In my dream, we had prepared a nice hors d’ouevres buffet for the prisoners, knowing they had been starving. Actually, that often happened too–not the hors d’ouevres so much, but the starvation. It was well known that German troops liked to be taken POW by Americans near the war’s end because they could eat here instead of starve there (and we were not too unkind to them).
So, my dream changed it up to make it a fancy reception but the idea was the same–Germans would be fed upon arrival. Sometimes for the first time in many days.
And, in my dream, the POW’s appeared to have some high-ranking officers among them. These men immediately assumed that my German-born friend was a Nazi sympathizer and began making arrogant comments about how we were throwing them a lavish reception because we realized they were the master race and they were going to win the war!
Such cockiness! Such a lack of awareness of reality! Even at war’s end!
As I awakened, I realized my dream was a story about grace. God extends grace. As we live in Him, man learns to imperfectly extend grace to other men. And often God’s grace, as we extend it, is trampled by arrogance. By people assuming that they are getting the buffet because they deserve it. Even assuming that they are getting the buffet because they are superior to you and all your church friends and your God and you are trying to curry favor with them for some future day of reckoning!
Question. When people abuse grace, does that change its nature? Does God’s buffet suddenly get redefined by the arrogant person trampling on God’s grace or questioning your motives for extending it to them?
No, no, and no.
That person trampling on God’s grace may very well be a legend in his own mind. He may convince others of his merit. He may convince dozens of others or hundreds of others. He doesn’t convince God.
Just because you stand at the overflowing buffet of God’s grace and claim that God and man owe it to you does not make that true! Words are just words. They are often untrustworthy.
God’s grace remains God’s grace, no matter how man may trample it or attempt to redefine it. You see, man’s time and authority are limited. He may get away with redefining part of God’s universe, putting it under his own control temporarily, but, as we saw with Hitler, no evil lasts forever (and, yes, I purposely call it evil to trample God’s grace).
The Psalms express the heartsickness that we can feel when someone tramples God’s grace repeatedly and seems to get away with it. But God is not mocked. He just won’t get on our timetable. He won’t let us abuse His grace either, by appointing ourselves judges of the other folks who abuse His grace . . .
In the end, He is God, we are not.
And He’s got this . . .