At the moment I am reading my way through Romans accompanied by James Dunn’s little commentary on that letter which is part of ‘the People’s Bible Commentary series’ – Romans by James D G Dunn, 2001, Bible Reading Fellowship. A couple of days ago I was reading the first few verses of chapter 11 and particularly noting the comments on ‘grace’. For instance, verse 6 says: “God’s choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God’s choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.” God’s grace is not dependent on anything that we might do. It is just there for us. Whenever I think of God’s grace, I tend to think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writing on the subject. Bonhoeffer distinguishes between ‘cheap’ grace and ‘costly’ grace. Cheap grace is such because it doesn’t have an impact. Costly grace is the real grace that, when we recognise it, will provoke a response in us. “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man (sic) will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, SCM, 1959, p. 36).
I also like Dunn’s little prayer reflection at the end of his comment on these few verses – “’Grace’ – that word again. A word to rest in when all else is puzzle and confusion. A fact to rely on when embarrassment and shame threaten to overwhelm. Thanks be to God for his uncalculating and uncomputable grace.”