A dispute once arose between the Wind and the Sun, which was the stronger of the two, and they agreed to settle the point upon the issue – that whichever of the two soonest made a traveler take off his cloak, should be accounted the more powerful.
The Wind began, and blew with all his might and main a blast, cold and fierce as a Thracian storm; but the stronger he blew, the closer the traveler wrapped his cloak around him, and the tighter he grasped it with his hands.
Then broke out the Sun. With his welcome beams he dispersed the vapor and the cold; the traveler felt the genial warmth, and as the Sun shone brighter and brighter, he sat down, quite overcome with the heat, and taking off his cloak, cast it on the ground.
Thus the Sun was declared the conqueror; and it has ever been deemed the persuasion is better than force; and that the sunshine of a kind and gentle manner will sooner lay open a poor man’s heart than all the threatenings and force of blustering authority. – Aesop
It is the truth that grace transforms. If we want to see true change, it must come through grace. It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)
Is it right that the goal of grace is to transform? Isn’t that a subtle form of law? If we don’t transform enough is grace still grace? Must grace persuade? Is there no ultimate pure raw good? If the guy didn’t take off his coat, does that mean the sun failed? Does love require change? If the only goal to is conform someone to a standard more to my liking, how can I ever hope to find pleasure in who they really are? Should the sun in the story have stopped shining if the desired effect of coat removal didn’t happen?
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:6-8, NASB).
Maybe the perception that there is an agenda to elicit change is the one main obstacle to honest fundamental change. The prodigal did not return to the father for a long time after his money had run out, because he believed love required loyalty and he had already failed that test. He didn’t believe that his father loved him freely and without qualification, but he was wrong. The father loved him long after the chance to make his wrongs right were past. He loved him despite his inability to make his wrongs right.
I think there must be no agenda in grace but love and only love. Moral transformation is an old photo that you look back at and say, ‘wow, I don’t remember having that haircut!’