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The Message paraphrase of John 12:32 says this: "And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me." The next verse tells us what "lifted up" means—"He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death" (v. 33). But what exactly does the term "attract" or "draw" imply? Is there anything inherently attractive about seeing someone dying by torture?


"Don't be simple," you say. "The attraction is in what Christ was doing for us on the cross."


And you are right. The attraction is grace—the power and force of His grace. Grace attracts (or draws) like a magnet. But magnetism also does something to the thing it draws. Let's consider grace in the context of magnetism and draw some simple analogies.


The obvious analogy is that magnets draw iron objects to themselves just as Christ said His grace would draw everyone. So, let's think of ourselves as iron bars. Just as humans are not born full of grace, iron bars are not born magnetic. They are made from liquid iron which solidifies. And they are in a condition which is referred to in science books as having their "domains randomly oriented." The places inside them that could be magnetic are going every which way; nothing is lined up right.


However, if a "randomly oriented" iron bar is put in a strong magnetic field, the domains all line up with the field, and the bar itself is said to be a "permanent magnet." So, once we have accepted Jesus' drawing grace, why aren't we all powerful little magnets drawing our children, our neighbors, anyone around us to the big magnetic field of Christ's grace?


The answer is in the fact that the "permanent magnet" state can be destroyed by heat or shock. And we can compare that to our everyday lives on this earth. There are forces that buffet and burn our best intentions. Even after our little iron bars have been drawn into the magnetic field, and magnetized, it doesn't mean that they are permanently permanent magnets. There must be a decided effort to keep returning them to the strong magnetic field of grace so they can remain magnetized.


If you want to see these principles in action for yourself, find a big magnet. Then find a few paper clips to represent our little iron-bar selves. Notice that one paper clip does not draw another when the first isn't near the "magnetic field." However, once a paper clip has been drawn to the big magnet, it becomes a magnet too. It can draw a second paper clip (or two or three) to join it at the big magnet.


So, how do I apply these principles to my daily life?


I must be very intentional about getting re-magnetized whenever I feel the heat and shock of life buffeting me. Which is to say—daily. I will want to ask myself these questions. When I face those I am discipling, am I still magnetized by grace? When I come home at the end of the day, have rush hour traffic and office politics shocked all magnetic grace from me, leaving none for my loved ones? Am I magnetized enough to be a force in keeping new members in the church? Are the young people I know drawn to Christ through me?


In short, "Just how magnetically attractive am I letting Him make and keep me?"


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Comment by Kathy Beagles on November 5, 2010 at 11:37am
Hi Angie. Yes, this analogy has served me well :-)
Comment by Angie Pollard on November 5, 2010 at 4:11am
Wow - what a brilliant analogy! This is a really useful idea, especially as it is so simple - easy to grasp and retain. Thank you!

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