More on order of operations

god's graceAn analogy is powerful persuasion. But it also has its flaws in that it never holds 100% correspondence to what it is being compared to. Such was the case of my last post, math = God’s systems. Specifically, I focused on order of operations, and how it you do math out of order, you get the wrong answer. I compared this to fudging God’s order from the Bible. For example, many people now think (especially in California) that it really doesn’t matter if you have sex before marriage. I insisted the correct order does matter.

great grace

image from Pegponderingagain.

Then pointed out that my post didn’t sound right. It sounded condemning, compassionless, cold. Maybe it turned a lot of people off to the gospel when my wish is to attract people.

grace of God

image from

While I believe there is a great truth to the order-of-operations analogy, at the same time there is a fallacy: Grace trumps. God redeems the brokenness and hurt of our lives. He gives us new beginnings. Think of doing the math problem wrong and still getting the right answer: that is grace.

God's mercyGrace is when we turn to God, realizing our sin. We want forgiveness. We want a new start. And He embraces us with compassion. He shows us a better way to live life. When we blow it, He continually gives us a new opportunity.

The tension between grace and law are summed up in the prodigal son: He was restored to full sonship, but his part of the inheritance was entirely and irrevocably squandered. We do lose blessings by our bad decisions. But God works the math to always favor us. Even this runs the risk of lacking grace.

8 responses to “More on order of operations

  1. I agree with this post, but at the same time I agree with my wife, who commented about your last post that anyone who found it “heartless” was in some way trying to justify sin. Grace trumps law, yes, but presuming on grace throws it all out the window.

  2. I have returned to school and am battling my way through a math class right now that is like learning a foreign language. Sometimes it feels like no matter how much I study there is always going to be something that I get wrong. It gives me a taste of the analogy of working for my salvation and unable to attain it~ where at times I feel completely inadequate yet struggle on. I love your math analogy because there is absolute truth and our culture today doesn’t want to recognize that it exists. Grace does trump all our wrong answers, but there still are consequences because we live in a fallen word surrounded by others that are fallen along with us. Praise God that when we go to take the Final Exam, we will find that our Instructor will smile and say that Jesus took it for us and aced it!

  3. Personally I thought your illustration was good.

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