I love this guy, Jon Acuff. He’s a Christian blogger who blogs in satire regarding Christianity without being offensive. Sometimes his posts are really funny, sometimes they’re serious with a huge nugget of truth. Today was one of those days. I’m going to post a passage from his blog today (you can read the whole thing here). I’m hoping someone reads this and passes it along to someone who could use the reminder of how awesome our God is. And I, too, am a big fan of edge verses.
I’ve written about this before, but I’m a big fan of “edge verses.” I’m a big fan of looking on the periphery of a scene in the Bible and seeing all the deep truth that often gets hidden amidst a major scene. And, in Luke 22, that certainly happens.
Jesus is on the threshold of getting crucified. He has the last supper with his disciples. He is sharing his thoughts on the father and the concept of serving and ruling. There is a sense of great importance heavy in the air. In the middle of that, he has a short conversation with Simon about how he is going to betray him.
It’s going to happen. Jesus knows this, but he wishes it wasn’t. He says to Simon in Luke 22:31-32:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
And then, in 9 words, he explains a big part of the reason I thought a mess-up like me ever had a chance at being a Christian.
Jesus tells Simon:
“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
That’s it. Those are 9 really simple words, but they demand a second look.
Do you see what Jesus is saying in that first half of the sentence: “And when you have turned back?” He’s saying:
And when you fail.
And when you sin.
And when you blow it and sell me out like a common thief.
And when you literally and physically turn your back on me.
And when you ruin it all.
When you turn back.
That concept is part of why our God is so different than everything we expect. We can turn back. There’s a return. There’s a comeback. There’s a loss and a brokenness and a state of falling, but you can turn back. That door is open. When I read the phrase “And when you have turned back,” I read a loud, wild picture of what grace really looks like.
Then you get to the part that is so easy to miss: The comma. Thank God for the comma, because that’s not how I would have written that sentence.
Mine would have looked more like:
“And when you have turned back, repent for three years before you try to get within a mile of my holiness.”
“And when you have turned back, don’t think for a second you’re qualified to tell other people about me.”
“And when you have turned back, here’s a long list of works you’ll need to do in order to clean yourself of the mistakes you’ve made and the consequences you’ve earned.”
But Christ doesn’t do that! He throws in a comma. He continues the sentence and simply says, “strengthen your brothers.”
Six years ago I ruined my life, but you know what?
God gave me the gift of the comma.
And that’s why I write Stuff Christians Like.
I have turned back. Not once, not twice, but a million times. And now it’s time to strengthen my brothers.
I hope you don’t miss the comma because God wants to give it to you. He wants to give you grace. He wants you to know that when you have turned back, you can still strengthen your brothers.
It’s time to accept the comma of grace.