This week has been a challenging one for me in a couple of different ways. For starters, I’m not picking up Hebrew as well as I’d like. I took my second Hebrew quiz on Friday and I felt going into it that I had a pretty good handle on the material. However, methinks I was proven over-confident. So, I decided to solicit the help of a T.A. – someone to tutor me through some of my rough spots.
Big deal, you say…there’s nothing wrong with getting a little extra help when you need it (maybe especially with something like Hebrew). However, I’m having a hard admitting to myself that I need help. I’ve always been the type of person who thinks he can do it all – sometime to a fault. I hated the fact that I needed to ask for help. It seems like everyone else has got it figured out, why can’t I? What I discovered later, that what I really needed was grace.
Shortly after that request for help went out via e-mail to a TA, I sat down to read my assignment for my Formation for Ministry (FFM) class. For this week, I had to read a good portion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together and I found it to be challenging in a wholly different way than Hebrew.
While Hebrew is challenging because it’s hard, the Bonhoeffer reading was challenging because it was convicting. You see, Bonhoeffer talks about the life a Christian being one that is completely and totally characterized by the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. We cannot understand Christ without understanding grace and we can’t experience that grace outside the fellowship of believers.
The only reason we can do anything is because of God’s grace, I get that. However, it’s hard for me, and I think many Christians, to fully embrace the wonderful gift of grace found in Christ Jesus our Lord. In order for us to truly understand the extreme grace when been given in Jesus Christ, we need to admit that we need it – alot of it.
For me having to get some help in Hebrew was admitting that I needed grace. I can’t do it myself, and I came to realize that I shouldn’t expect to be able to do it all on my own. After all, we don’t do anything on our own, do we. So being humbled by Hebrew and admitting that I need the help and support of those around me was a perfect way for me to better understand the importance of Bonhoeffer’s words in Life Together when he says that Christian fellowship is, “found solely in Jesus Christ …the community of Christians spring solely from the Biblical and Reformation message of the justification of man through grace alone…”
I am a member of that community of Christians – and I am a recipient of that profound grace and that means that I must be able to humbly accept it from the members of that community knowing full well that they’ve received it too. Then maybe, just maybe, admitting we need help, removing the facade of perfection, and asking our brothers and sisters in Christ for wisdom and guidance and prayer becomes a sign of strength rather than weakness.
I’m learning, too, that I need to give as much grace (if not more) than I’ve received. How can I receive it without also giving it? Doing anything less would make me a hypocrite, which I’m already pretty good at. Grace isn’t grace until it’s been given.
So the Lord continues to work in mysterious ways using the challenges of Hebrew alongside a challenging reading assignment from a different class to help me see more clearly the grace that I need to give and, more importantly, that grace I need to receive from others and have received because of what Christ has done for all of us. Praise be to God for his indescribable gift on which I am, at all times and in all situations, wholly dependent.
P.S. I feel a sermon coming on…watch out world!