Posted by: Don Linnen | 31 January 2013

Cheap Grace and Easy Coffee

Grace and coffee – rarely do they go together. But Tim Keller and Twitter sent me down this thought line. When you see Keller’s name, you know the subject of grace is about more than walking and chewing gum.

Common grace, according to the Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, “speaks of God’s extension of favor to all people through providential care, regardless of whether or not they acknowledge and love God.” Pretty simple. I’ll not touch efficaciousprevenient, irresistible, or sufficient grace here – but note they may help in your next game of Letterpress.

Grace does seem easy at first blush. You just sit there, and it comes to you. I like easy. I love good coffee. That’s why my Twitter feed today quickly led me to The Easiest Way to Make Awesome Coffee.

This “easy” way recommended I buy four new things for the kitchen then carefully follow 12 steps to make my awesome coffee. But my caffeine needs are generally early and immediate. A 12-step program just isn’t going to happen when I’m sleep walking and cold. Looks like I will put up with cheap, easy, mediocre coffee.

Keller wrote the forward to the excellent Eric Metaxas book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued it’s not enough to just believe in Jesus and accept free grace with “no skin in the game.” He called this “cheap grace.” He restated what Dr. Luke said about giving stuff up to follow Jesus (9:23). It costs.

Bonhoeffer witnessed German Christians in the 1930’s buying into cheap grace – aka easy “believism.” I’m not so sure American Christians today aren’t doing the same thing. Easy.

But grace just does not work without real change of the inner person. The cost is real effort. Not easy.

Keller put it another way: “Costly grace changes your life from the inside out.” That’s a good thing. An awesome thing.

Grace and coffee do go together.  You get what you pay for.

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