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in this time of Lenten reflection

"Sojourners (magazine) has written much and often about the abuse and cheapening of grace. In many ways, it is the place where we began. That concern still stands; cheap grace continues to be the greatest affliction of the churches.

"Radical Christians [not meaning conservative, right-winged Christians], however, face another problem. It is the tendency to seek justification in our lifestyle, our work, our protest, our causes, our movements, our actions, our prophetic identity, and our radical self-image. It becomes an easy temptation to place our security in the things we stand for and in the things we do, instead of in what God has done. It is a temptation to depend on things other than God's grace.

"'For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest [anyone] should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).' Grace is the logic of a loving God. There is nothing we can do to earn it, win it, or deserve it. Grace is simply a gift, not a reward. We can receive it only by faith, not through good works.

"Grace saves the prophetic vocation. The knowledge and experience of grace can ease the seriousness with which we tend to take ourselves. Grace can restore our humility, our sense of humor, and our ability to laugh at ourselves. All are regularly needed by prophets.

"To trust grace is to know that the world has already been saved by Jesus Christ. It is to know that we cannot save the world any more than we can save ourselves. All our work is done only in response to Christ's work. To receive the gift of grace is to let go of self-sufficiency and to act out of a spirit of gratitude.

"Radical Christians must pursue more than a successful strategy; we must seek a deeper faith. Only then will we have the assurance of salvation, not because of what we have accomplished, but because we have allowed God's grace and mercy to flow through our lives."

This article was adapted from Jim Wallis' reflections at Sojourners' Ash Wednesday service March 1, 2006.


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