Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Extra


Extra might well be the key word which defines what distinguishes the life of the follower of Christ. When God sent us a Saviour, He gave extra. When Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven, He gave extra. When Christ summed up what following Him would mean, He used the word extra.
"When someone asks you to walk a mile, walk the extra mile…"
More than expected. That's extra. Lavish, generous, undeserved. The word that sums up all that extra entails is prodigal. It's where we get the word, prodigious from to describe someone who is highly productive beyond what is normal. We ascribe this description to the wayward son who wasted his first inheritance. But really, and more accurately, it belongs exclusively to the father of this son since he was the one who lavished on his son what he didn't deserve, then prodigiously gave to him again when he returned. Jesus told us this story of course to tell us something about His Father. He wanted us to know that the God we worship is the God of Extra.

Consider our salvation. If God had just forgiven us our sins, that would have been enough and for this we would have to be eternally grateful. But this Prodigal God gave extra. Along with forgiveness undeservedly bestowed upon us, He has also justified us, adopted us, made us joint-heirs with Christ, given us the hope of the Resurrection, and offered to reward our service for Him.

Have you ever given this God of The Extra something extra? It's actually impossible since He is the only One who actually deserves everything we can possibly give Him. But interestingly in Hebrew culture the way someone gave thanks was not quite the same as how we directly do it. Rather, a person thanked someone by telling others of what that person did for them. In this light, we give God extra for all that He has done for us is to do something extra for others as His ambassadors.
"If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well."
The other night I was in our kitchen after a long day and an evening of entertaining several people. Kim asked me to dry up the glasses she had washed. She left the kitchen to continue tidying up the rest of our house. I finished drying the remaining glasses. I then saw that there was still a stack of drying up to do. Then a thought entered my head: why not do something extra and dry those up as well? Since it was a question I began to answer it. Because I'm tired...Because this is the job we have given our children...Because I have other more important things to do… But that word extra lingered.

It sounded like Jesus.

Extra is unfair (usually in a good way).  In this sense, Jesus is the most just, and yet at the same time, the most unfair person. He continually did for people more than they deserved - not just what they fairly deserved! He didn't treat them fairly - He gaveextra - beyond what was reasonable or fair. He was not a minimalist.

Les MisThose who follow Christ cannot help but experience His continual extras. He gives us more than we deserve. He does for us more than we deserve. He listens to us more than we deserve. He uses us more than we deserve. Followers of Christ are gradually transformed by this continual divine extraness. Victor Hugo masterfully represented this in the classic, Les Miserabl├ęs. Jean Valjean encounters the divine extra when the Bishop, he has just assaulted and robbed, gives him what he has stolen, then scolds him for not taking the two prize silver candle sticks. Jean Valjean is utterly transformed by this overwhelming grace, this extra grace. He becomes a new man. He pays this extra-grace 'forward' when he tenderly cares for Fantine and her daugher Cosette. He then finally gives his arch-enemy, Javert, an experience of the divine extra. Javert is encounters a dead-end.

If you know Christ, you have been extra'd. As you know Christ more sweetly, others will be extra'd by you. Rather than just giving someone a cup of tea, you will give them a biscuit as well. As the extra sweetness of Christ infuses increasingly into your dealings with others, don't be surprised if the biscuit you offer your guest goes from looking like a Maree to looking like a Tim-Tam. If you're in business, consider how the extraness of Christ might be reflected to your customers. If your parents ask you to wash the dishes, extraness would dry them and put them away as well. How do reflect Christ's extra?

Ps. Andrew

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