Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Emotion of Grace @MaxLucado #MaxOnLife @LucadoTeam @christianaudio @caReviewers

Grace seems to be a theme in my life lately. It's been a topic at my church, at a Rob Bell event I went to, and has been on my mind a lot dealing with unethical behavior from a home repair company and an adoption lawyer (we've lost about $8000 on the two in the last few months). So when I had the chance to review Max Lucado's latest book, Grace, I was eager to do so, especially since I'm a Lucado fan anyway.

Lucado's book is short, which is actually nice. Rather than engaging in a deep theological treatise on grace, Lucado does what he does best: He tells stories. He makes the concept of grace come alive in a real human way that is not abstract or theoretical. Much of what I see written on grace is really more of the latter, which is ultimately grace-less. Without the dirt and grit and hard-core reality, grace is useless and worthless.

Despite my profession as a psychologist, I can have a strong tendency to be very rational and cognitive, dissociated from my emotion. This can be especially true in theological and intellectual contexts, and particularly true when I'm extra busy. But the emotion is important. As I teach my adolescents and parents in group, without emotion, it's really hard to build a relationship. Faith without emotion loses the relational element with God. And grace without emotion is just theory.

Lucado's book helped me emotionally experience the power of grace again. There were several times I got teary listening to some of the stories (despite riding my bicycle on my commute). It made me think several times, "That's right, this is what it's all about." Lucado provided what in psychology we call a corrective emotional experience, emotionally experiencing something different than we have before.

Yet in Lucado's traditional style, it is not heavy-handed or preachy or even prescriptive. It describes what a grace-filled life is like and lets you figure out how it fits in your life, which is very appropriate for grace.

I remind my clients frequently to have grace for themselves, reminding them when appropriate, that this is what God does for us. Showing grace to others is one way, I believe, that God incarnationally gives grace to his creation.

Yet it is a struggle. Is grace always appropriate? Grace and forgiveness often go together, although they are not the same. We are often told to forgive everyone. But I'm not sure that's correct. Does God really give grace to everyone, or just the people who ask for it? He wasn't terribly gracious to the Pharisees. And where does restitution fit in? Can you give grace and still demand repayment? Are they paradoxical? These are questions I would love to see someone tackle...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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