Common Grace and the Common Flu

I brought the same jug of sweet tea to two parties in a row this weekend. It was not opened either time. This, I trust, is an act of providence, because I am now “experiencing flulike symptoms” and have a solid gallon of hydrating liquids at my bedside. I also have a bag of my beloved sunflower seeds which I have had to abandon. They look very sad sitting over there, all alone.

Colds and the flu are not things I am given to recognizing quickly, since I already have sinuses stuffier than a high society luncheon. But this headache, the fatigue, the increased rate of sniffles and coughing… it adds up. I left class early today, skipped work, and caught a two-hour nap before plowing through some Bavinck. Which is great, because we’re finally to the point in the theology book where the guy starts talking about Jesus. I mean, the other stuff is important too, but the Lord is kind of crucial. And I’ve been on a central-tenets-of-the-gospel kick lately. But I digress.

I was settling into bed after a warm shower (the best place to think, and also a cheap humidifier) when I got the urge to pull up Spotify. You see, physical and mental health can be pretty closely connected, and feeling miserable often makes me… well, feel miserable. The solution? Good music. Montgomery Gentry, Tim McGraw, and Alan Jackson. I’m pretty sure the entirety of my musical tastes spiral out from those three/four musicians.

After taking my hot shower, while drinking my jug of tea, as I listened to my favorite musicians, I texted my dad two time zones over. While interacting with friends on facebook. And researching the flu on WebMD.  It kind of all hit me right then. I am living the life of a king. I am a dirt-poor college kid, and I still am blessed beyond the wildest imaginations of anybody just a few centuries age. Again, as an inhabitant of a comparatively low rung on the socioeconomic latter (thought there are a lot lower), I’ve got luxuries within reach of my bed that any Louis, Henry, or Otto of old Europe could only dream of.

Today in the one class I muddled all the way through, there was a great deal of discussion about common grace. This is the notion that God not only is gracious to those whom he is saving, but scatters blessings over the whole of humanity. Now, we went on some interesting tangents about tetherball and the nature of testimonies, but that basic idea is itself a pretty fascinating one. Over two thousand years God has blessed us with technology and economic developments that make the high points of other civilizations look like post-apocalyptic nightmare realms. And not just on repentant followers of Christ, either. Rain falls on the justified and the unjustified alike. Amazing stuff, this grace.

After I click publish and send my written words out into the world to be perused from any place on the planet, I will go back to reading theology, though I might dive into the modern miracle of Netflix at some point tonight. Eventually I will sleep, and awake to the sound of a small electronic alarm in my phone. Which has a touchscreen. Then I will use that phone to tell people whether or not I am healthy enough to attend their classes, bible studies, and Greek studies. All without leaving my room. It’s a crazy world we live in. Enjoy it, even in the flu season.

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A Tenet of the Faith

It is a fact of life, and a tenet of the faith, that everybody is a sinner. Everyone lies, everyone is willfully blind to their own faults or the faults of those they love, and everyone twists their version of events to accommodate their own desires. We are all, every last one of us, selfish little buggers who lash out when we should forgive or cling greedily to our pride when we should humble ourselves and live for others.

And this does not apply only to pagans. This is true of Christians– all Christians. Every last one of us lies, cheats, steals, covets, lusts, or loses our temper on a more or less regular basis. Judged objectively, by the standards of a Creator who made all things good, by the standards of the God who is love, we are scumbags.

This is even true of the people we like. You may choose to ignore it when the evidence crops up, but go one night without sleep or wake up with a headache and immediately you will recognize the faults of every human being you come into contact with.

This is true of great men too, men we respect. They not only make mistakes, you know the kind- accidents and indiscretions, no, they also willfully do the wrong thing. Watch them long enough, see them interact with those who give them trouble, and it will come out eventually.

This is not news to Jesus. While we were yet sleazy, self-centered scumbags, Christ died for us. Knowing that we’re the sort of people that would join in crucifying him if we thought it was in our interest, he chose to take the punishment we deserved. He showed us how to die to ourselves, he gave us Someone Else to live for, and he showed us the way up out of the grave.

This does not mean we ceased to be sinners; it means that our sins were paid for. We’ve been given the grace to live for God, and to show that same grace and selfless love to each other, but we are still toddlers taking our first steps down the path of faith. There are times when we will stumble, so we confess our sin, ask forgiveness, get up and keep on walking. And every time we should thank the Lord that he loves us even when we don’t deserve it. Because we never do.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Rejoice, for the Lord is good; his mercy endureth forever.