Monday, February 11, 2013

Grace and Oles

We've created a tradition in our family of visiting Taco John's after a pediatrician appointment. Taco John's is right next to the doctor's office, so it's a perfect excuse for me to get some greasy comfort food and will be a fun tradition for the kids when they are older: a spoonful of Mexican food makes the medicine go down in a more delightful way.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Taco John's is fast food Tex-Mex along the lines of Taco Bell, but superior for several reasons, one of which is that they are the purveyors of Potato Oles, which are a bit like tater tots sprinkled with magic. Crispy, greasy magic. I don't say this lightly since I generally turn up my nose at fast food for its cost, lack of flavor and horrendous nutritional content; but 'ta-oles (as T calls them) are a special treat.

E had her four-month check-up today (she screamed the entire time, thanks for asking) and T spend the time at daddy's office. I picked up some tacos and 'ta-oles to take back for the toothed among us to enjoy (E was, mercifully, finally asleep by the time we started to eat). On our way home, I tried to explain to T that in getting 'ta-oles, he was benefiting from E's trip to the doctor, even though he himself hadn't been subjected to any shots.

In some circles, we call that grace: enjoying a benefit that we ourselves did not earn.

If you've ever been on a sports team, you've experienced this theological truth, that one can benefit or suffer along with another individual just because you are part of the same "body" as that individual. That buzzer shot means that the whole team wins. That missed free-throw or one person goofing off means that the whole team runs laps in punishment. It really is good for our individualistic American selves to experience this wherever possible, for Scripture teaches it throughout. One person sins and a whole household, town, nation or race suffers. (Think about Pharaoh, David's family, Jonah on the boat, and, of course, Adam.) One person is faithful and it ripples out to family, church, nation and down through history. (Think about Noah, Joseph, Rahab, and, of course - especially - Christ.)


It is a deeply theological experience when we benefit from the blessing of others. But don't miss it for what it is; those 'ta-oles don't just taste like magic, they also taste of grace.

"For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, 
so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." 
(Romans 5:19)

*****

PS - Speaking of our corporate connectivity, Tim Challies offered some compelling thoughts the other day about the need to pursue individual sanctification for the sake of others in the church and not just ourselves (and the inverse, that individual sin hurts the whole church):
“If I love the people in my church, I will grow in holiness for their sake. I am prone to thinking that holiness is an individual pursuit, but when I see sanctification as a community project, now it is more of a team pursuit. I am growing in holiness so that I can help others grow in holiness, I am putting sin to death so I can help others put sin to death. My church needs me and I need my church, and this is exactly how God has designed it.”

1 comment:

Hannah said...

I Absolutely agree -

When Adam and I were struggling the most with infertility, we read "How Long O Lord?" by D.A Carson (Well, I read portions of it with him, he read all of it).

I'm not precisely sure what was written that started the conversation, but we talked a lot about suffering for the good of the community of believers.

Adam's comment was something along the lines of: we may never have our own children, but the suffering we are experiencing might not be for our own growth or for God to work individually in our own lives. Joseph suffered - sure, he was rewarded - but God was looking out for the community when Joseph was sold into slavery. God wasn't simply working in Joseph's life to show his glory - while that was inextricably part of it. God was making sure his people were surviving and seeing his glory.

Anyway, it helped me - I realized that I may never understand what those 2.5 years were about (completely), but that God's working in my life wasn't always about my sanctification. It was about the sanctification of the whole.