Have you ever given up “trying to be good” for Lent? It’s pretty easy. It actually comes quite naturally! Last Sunday we began a new adult education series with a great discussion of grace and law. A common misconception of Christianity is that of a journey from vice to virtue. This is understandable. After all, shouldn’t following Jesus make us better people long term? Well, sure, the Holy Spirit has promised to bear fruit in Christians (Galatians 5). But, even so, is a journey from vice to virtue a helpful metaphor for the life of faith?
Here’s an alternative picture I picked up from Gerhard Forde and other seminary teachers of mine. Instead of Christian faith as a journey from vice to virtue, consider a movement from virtue to Christ. Here, the journey begins with a person who is trying to be virtuous, live a good life, be a better person. You don’t even need to be a Christian or religious to be on that journey. All of our consciences bear witness to the trials of this human experience.
What Christian faith delivers is the grace of God in Christ for people who have failed to be virtuous. The grace of Jesus actually gives what the ‘law of virtue’ could only inspire, but never deliver.
Rather than embark on a “Lenten Journey” from vice to virtue, hear the call of our Lord, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This season, may our dear Lord journey to you, just as you are, to deliver again the grace, mercy, and love of God for you.