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The comma of grace.

As I’ve written about before, one Easter I got into a bit of a yelling match with a guy in a visor at an Easter egg hunt. The whole thing was exactly how Jesus imagined us honoring that day.

We were at my in-laws country club, which always makes me feel a little weird. We’re certainly rich in a global way, but I kind of think that they can all tell that I’m just a visitor. I feel like the real members can smell middle class on me. (Which kind of smells like sun ripened raspberry and feet by the way.)

So after I pointed to where a golden egg was hidden to my then 5 year old daughter, he yelled at me for cheating. I told him that his white visor made him look like a financial planner who was wearing his “casual uniform.” Whole thing got very out of hand. (I didn’t say that, but I thought it later when we were driving home, which is where most of my comebacks occur.)

This year, we spent Easter in Chapel Hill at my parents church. Standing there waiting for the egg hunt to start I had a flashback to that rugby scrum one from a few years ago. I might always remember that moment at Easter, but there’s a more important one I won’t forget. One I’ve written about before.

I’m talking about the “comma of grace.”

I found it in Luke 22. In that chapter, Jesus is being led away. He is headed to the cross. A million prophecies are coming true and chaos is breaking out a little amongst disciples that up to this point have sworn to serve until death. In the midst of that, he pulls Simon aside because he knows that Simon will soon betray him.

He says to Simon in Luke 22:31-32:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”

And then, he drops the 9 words that I can’t write about enough. The 9 words that I often turn to when I’ve failed and messed up again and feel hopelessly undeserving of hope.

Jesus tells Simon:

“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Do you see what Jesus is saying in that first half of the sentence, And when you have turned back? He’s saying:

You are going to fail.

You are going to fall.

You are going to lose it.

You are going to make commitments and break them.

You are not going to always be the man you family needs.

You are going to sin.

But, but, but, you will turn back.

You will come back. You will know redemption. You will know return. You will know a God that not only allows the “comeback” but actually celebrates it.

When I read the phrase “And when you have turned back,” I read a loud, wild picture of what grace really looks like.

And then, if you go too fast, you’ll miss the comma. You’ll miss the gap that sits quietly between the next thought. You’ll miss it because like me, you might misread the second half of that sentence.

Here’s what it says:

“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But here’s how we write it sometimes:

“And when you have turned back, repent for a long time and stay a long way from me until you are clean enough to return to my presence.”

“And when you have turned back, please stay far away from any ministry opportunities. You are too broken to help other people. How can you minister to others when your own life is so messed up?

“And when you have turned back, here are the 57 things you need to do in order to earn back my good favor.”

But Christ doesn’t do that! He drops a comma like a grenade.

He gives us the gift of the comma and then asks us to strengthen our brothers. Not beat ourselves with emotional whips. Or lay in a hole of shame. Or stay to the shadows of church, afraid to be seen.

He wants you. In his arms. By his side. Surrendered and free in his presence.

Not because you deserve it or have earned it or are perfect.

Because of Easter.

That’s it.

We all get the comma of grace.

Jon Acuff

About the Author

Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of four books including his most recent, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average & Do Work that Matters. For 15 years he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, Staples, and the Dave Ramsey Team. Most recently he’s spoken to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences, colleges, companies and churches. A media feature, Jon has been seen on CNN, Fox News, Good Day LA and several other key outlets. In addition, he’s become a social media expert with a blog read by 4 million people and close to 200k twitter followers. In 2010 he used his influence with his tribe to build two kindergartens in Vietnam. Jon lives with his wife Jenny and two daughters in Franklin, TN. Visit his website http://stuffchristianslike.net/