Scandalous Grace

Have you heard about “Operation Varsity Blues” by the Department of Justice that has exposed the largest college cheating scam of all time? Around 50 wealthy people, many of whom are well known celebrities, have been charged with paying absurd sums of money to get their children into some elite colleges across the nation. Apparently some paid bribes up to $6.5 million to insure admission into a preferred school. The admissions scandal had many varying aspects to it such as falsifying records, bribing school officials, and fabricating profiles and credentials. Another part of the scam involved getting parents to petition for extended time for their child to take college entrance exams (such as the ACT or SAT), then getting the testing location changed to certain specific locations, where someone else would then complete the exam in place of the actual child.

Those of us who attended college or had children in college are appalled by this fraudulent and scandalous plan. We, and our kids, had to work hard to build a solid high school record, had to study and take the college entrance exams on our own, and weren’t able to throw large sums of cash at people to insure admission to the school of our choice. We, and our children earned it. The idea of someone else doing the actual work or substituting a record that wasn’t earned in the place of the actual student’s performance is truly scandalous and it offends us.

God’s Word clearly opposes cheating, bribery, lying, deception, injustice, and fraud. These actions should be condemned and those involved need to be prosecuted. It’s a scandal that must not be ignored or brushed under the rug.

But it’s this same sense of “scandal” and of wanting to make sure people “earn” their way and “get what they deserve” that makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ so scandalous. The only thing we’ve “earned” is death and eternal condemnation. The only thing we “deserve” is God’s eternal wrath and curse. But Jesus took our place; He took the exam of obedience for us, made a perfect score, and now our record shows that we get full credit. We stand before God not only “as if we’ve never sinned” because of His atoning death, but also “as if we’ve obeyed perfectly” because of His perfect righteous imputed to us. It’s simply scandalous!

But that’s how grace works. No way does this justify a college cheating scam or any other such abuse of the system, but grace is just as much a shock to our senses. We sense we need to earn, merit, or deserve our salvation. It’s why the religious people of Jesus’ day hated Him. It’s why the religious people of today tend to be Pharisaical and legalistic and fight against grace. But praise God for His scandalous grace! Praise God that Jesus took my place and I get admission into the Kingdom because He did the work!