“To your grace I attribute it and to your mercy, that you have melted away my sin as if it were ice. To your grace also I attribute whatsoever of evil I did not commit,” (Schmidt 376)
To the people who had grown up with St. Augustine, these words would come as a shock. These words were not the words of the Augustine they knew. Where was the Augustine who stole pears just for the heck of it (Schmidt 375)? The Augustine who, to scratch, “the itch of lust,” (Schmidt 381) slept with every single woman he could get his dirty paws on? The Augustine who found, “pleasure only in what was unlawful, and only because it was unlawful?” (Schmidt 376). To Augustine’s contemporaries, such a line of humble prayer would either have inspired great joy at his change of heart or great suspicion as to whether or not his change of heart was truly genuine.
The modern-day man might also feel suspicious of Augustine's words. Grace may feel to the modern man to be some magical Jesus juice that only the crazy Christians drink. But the modern-day Christian knows the truth of the matter. Without the sweetness of God’s grace in our lives we would have a bitter existence indeed. Ask any Christian to tell one story of how God’s grace had saved them from doing something horrible or wrestled them free from something horrible they had done and despaired of, and they will always have at least one story where God saved them from themselves. Why is this? It is because, when face to face with the intense heat of God’s loving grace, sin melts and washes away from a soul as easily as the sun saves me a few calories by melting my ice cream down my hand and on to the sidewalk faster than I can lick it.
Schmidt, Mark R. Familiar Strangers. Available from: Liberty University Online Bookshelf, Macmillan Higher Education, 2020.