As you grow in your faith, you’ll occasionally come across of a piece of theology or an idea or a perspective that changes everything.
One of the biggest ideas that changed everything for me is Common Grace.
This specific term comes from the Reformed school of thought, but don’t head for the hills if you’re not a 5 point Calvinist (I am not either). The idea is shared by many circles. In fact, this logic is often celebrated by even the staunchest Arminian.
Common Grace is a deep issue, though, with many possible implications depending on how it’s interpreted and how far it’s taken. Much of the reading online comes from Reformed commentators and writers so it can be taken to a place you might or might not agree with, but the essence of this idea is agreed upon by the majority of Christians. It is quite apparent in scripture, after all. I hope to expand upon Common Grace in future posts, but I’d like to introduce it here.
What’s the big idea?
At its core, Common Grace refers to the gifts (and therefore grace) God bestows that are common to all people. This is drastically different from saving grace; these common gifts are given to all, not only those that have accepted salvation.
Most Christians agree that God reveals himself in the expanse and awful power of nature. A roaring waterfall, the vibrant color of fall leaves, and the serene rainbow that emerges after a thunderstorm are signs God shows to all people.
But He has given us much more than nature itself. Life could be devoid of color, music, taste, and fun. If you watch the movie The Giver you’ll see this presented and see how possible it is. None of what makes life enjoyable is necessary. But God showed grace to all people in creating those things.
Think about just a few of the things you experience with your senses.
God didn’t have to create sugar cane, cumen, rosemary, pepper, salt, cacao, or coffee beans. Food and drink could merely be fuel, lacking taste or texture of any kind.
God didn’t have to create pine, cedar, lavender, grass, smoke, rain, lime, cheese, leather, flowers, or apples to have a distinct scent. If taste is unnecessary, so is smell.
God didn’t have to create octaves, thirds, major, minor, rhythm, pitch, or even sound itself. We could communicate by means that aren’t auditory.
God didn’t have to create red, blue, maroon, periwinkle, cobalt, orange, azure, yellow, sea foam green, cyan, aquamarine, magenta, beige, black, gray, or navy. There’s no need for color or texture.
But God created these things.
Why? The omnipotent Creator didn’t need these things. Why create so much extra stuff that is completely unnecessary to life? It’s simple.
God created these things for us.
Everything you’ve every tasted, heard, seen, smelled, felt, or experienced has been created by God for you.
How beautiful is that?
This radically changed how I viewed the world. The world God created isn’t some decrepit vacuum that only holds the sinners to be harvested. It’s a gift. It’s good in and of itself because it’s been given value by its Creator. My Creator.
This really changes the Christian vs. worldly dichotomy that was the dogma for approaching culture for decades. Christians should engage and create culture, not separate themselves from it to create a watered down version of their own.
Rap music, a filet mignon, football, cap toe derbies, train-side graffiti, a Ferrari, ice sculptures, knit ties, barbecued ribs, Footloose, motorsports, bluegrass, succulent gardens, Interstellar, strawberry smoothies, and a child’s finger painting are enjoyable because God allows them to be.
Just as the Bible has authority because God authored it, so Creation has value because God created it. And these things do have a real value as Creation, but their ultimate reason for existence is to point to our Creator.
So I want to encourage you, Church. Open your eyes to see all Creation as valuable. Realize that everything you use and/or experience is good, because its Creator gives it value. Be thankful for everything you eat, see, smell, touch, and partake of; it’s a gift God has made common to all.