Though Anand Mahadevan rightly states in his book, The Grace of God and Flaws of Men, “When sin reigns darkest, grace shines brightest,” he gets one bit wrong.
The Mumbai-based church planter fails to cushion the reader from this greatest of Biblical truths. He neglects to provide any wiggle-room so a person can squirm away. His book offers no leeway to drift off the course. It would have been a whole lot easier if he allowed us to avoid our flaws and comfortably settle back into old patterns of thinking.
Instead what we get is something like drinking water from a fire-hydrant. On the one hand, you are overcome with how bad these faithful men(Hebrews 11) behaved. On the other hand, you are overwhelmed with how God could bless such notorious sinners. Mahadevan drenches us with the realness of our sin and, at the same time, the genuineness of God’s reckless grace.
In page after page, via the stories of Abrham, Isaac and Jacob, the reader is confronted not just with the ugliness of sin but the reality of God’s grace. In chapter after chapter, the book plunges the depths of the darkness of these heroes of the faith only to climb to the heights of the glorious riches of the Gospel of grace.
Several features of this must-read book become apparent within the first hour.
First, the author deeply loves the Gospel of Jesus. The writing emerges not from a dry, aloof observer of what others experience. This is a powerful, soak-it-all-in, testimony to the living truth of Jesus. He writes, “I hope you are drawn to worship Jesus as you read this book,” and encourages us to, “worship and adore him for a few minutes at least after every chapter.” You will, in fact, be bowing down on bended knee as you recognize the existential presence of grace.
Second, fresh writing these days is hard to find. Often a reader loses interest as they feel like they have been there and read that. This is not the case with Mahadevan’s book. His twenty-five year career in journalism certifies him to tell familiar stories in original ways. For example, he skillfully relates the Biblical narrative found in Genesis 19, “There within the dingy confines of the cave, Lot and his two daughters committed the most abhorrent of sins,” and “even the most sexually permissive person will not say that sex between a father and daughter is okay,” then connecting this scandal to Jesus’ birth, “the human ancestry of Jesus Christ can be traced all the way back to that despicable, drunken and incestuous night in that cave.”
Finally, the author’s own personal experience with God’s grace is weaved into the tapestry of the book. It is obvious he has walked the talk. He shares snippets of his own struggles, like when he didn’t attend church for a year, or when he lived a life of wild abandon, or when he did unbalanced corporate interviews. Because of his straight-forward admissions of wrestling deeply with sin, the reader is supplied with courage to dive below the surface of superficiality in their own struggles.
Like a breaking news report, Mahadevan delivers the message that God revealed himself for 1500 years as the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” In the same breath, he gives the scoop on the stinking-with-sin lives of Abraham the “serial offender”, and Isaac the “biased unrepentant” and Jacob the “foolish deceiver”. Although these men were all deeply flawed and terribly broken, over the course of their lives, they were transformed by God’s grace. In the last chapter, we read, “In revealing Himself primarily as the God of these three men, God is telling the world that He is a God of transformation who takes messed up sinners, forgives them and transforms them into heroes of faith.”
In the end, this book points us to Jesus Christ. We are more damaged than we actually know, at the same time in Jesus, we are more loved than we ever dreamed. Because of Jesus, we have great hope towards living a life of purpose. Mahadevan challenges us, “Grace is only complete when our experience of forgiveness and transformation compels and empowers us for mission…even if this mission often involves great suffering.”
How do you know if you have understood the book’s message? You know because you begin to joyfully live a life of obedience and sacrifice. You look to Jesus—not to yourself—for the origin, meaning, identity and destiny of your life. In other words, you find your whole life built on Christ. We don’t do this to earn God’s favour, we do this in response to the favour that Jesus has already earned.
If you desire to recover the heart of the Christian faith, this book is for you. If you crave a raw, on-the-rocks presentation of the Gospel of grace, this book is for you. It will push you toward a deeper understanding of the Big Story and promote God’s mission in the middle of your everyday life.