I’ve been thinking a lot about Grace lately. This is definitely a subject that demands much thought and consideration. I am sure that my little exploration into the topic will yield feeble results…not because I am just being hard on myself or because I being overly humble. My view is that Grace is a word that has been cheapened by how it has been used over the centuries. Around two thousand years ago now a guy name Paul wrote about grace in a letter to the church in Rome. In his letter he wrote….
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans, 5:6-8.
It is so hard for most of us to own up to our own short comings. We like to wink at our flaws and say to ourselves, “I’m not perfect, but I’m not an axe murderer; I’m not as bad as that guy they just talked about on the news.” We then look to blame others for the terrible condition of our world. We blame our parents, we blame the family, we blame government, we blame the system, we blame God. We blame everyone else but we seem to fail to own up the the responsibility that we might contribute to anything bad in our world. In the deep, twisted and I think, funny words of despair.com, “No single rain drop believes it is to blame for the flood.”
I urge us all to look around. We all live in the same small world and for generations we have all been trying to figure out how to make things better for everyone. Let’s face it, with all of our good intentions, and with all of our knowledge of all that is good and all that is evil, left to ourselves, we simply don’t have the ability to do good all the time. Our capacity to do really great things is matched with a capacity to do terrible things. When technology and innovation is added to the equation we seem to be able to do really good things and really bad things more efficiently and rapidly. I would add that we can do all of this at a global scale. With all the accomplishments that we can boast about throughout history, war is in no short supply, hunger is alive and well, we are no strangers to violence and injustice still seems to run just as freely as ever.
I believe that it is true, all of us who claim to be followers of Christ need to take on a spirit of making things right…pursuing Godly justice where we seek to unblock the blessings that God intends for everyone. I must admit though…the pursuit of making things right is an overwhelming thought. We know that we can’t make things right with a perfectly just and loving God without His Grace. Perhaps we need to consider adopting this attitude with each other.
What if today, at this moment, every living person on the planet decided to adopt a spirit and an attitude of grace toward every other person they have encountered, and will encounter in their lives? I know…the question is naive right? However, the abject injustice and depravity that people have inflicted on each other over the centuries is immeasurable. I believe that it is equally naive to think that injustice and depravity have gone down by any measure over the entire history of humanity to this date. We may pay down our debt to each other in one account but accumulate greater debt in another. Our debt to God is beyond what we can pay. Perhaps our debt to each other is beyond settlement as well.
I won’t be so naive as to say we should all declare moral bankruptcy to each other. Acknowledging that our dept to each other is simply too high to pay does not excuse us from owning up to our dept to each other. We all need to own our own sin. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are accountable for our actions. I also won’t be so short sighted as to say that we should all be friends and live in one big happy community. Mutual respect and dignity does not require that everyone be friends. It doesn’t even require that everyone agree on everything. We can be agreeable though, even in the face of sharp disagreement.
My desire for the world is that everyone would know the love of God through Christ. I desire this because all people who have known the love who God were once exposed to His Grace through Christ. At some point in our lives we realized that our dept to God was impossible to pay and that our only hope of having a relationship with the creator of the universe was through Grace. It is amazing how the Grace of God changes things. I would have to admit that God’s Grace toward me not only changed my perspective toward Him, but it changed how I looked at all people.
It also amazes me how quickly I can forget how Gracious God has been. This is one area where I don’t stand alone. I really wonder how the world sees the church. We are supposed to be the body of Christ, charged with being ambassadors of the most high God of the universe. Yet religious Christians can be viewed as being some of the least Gracious people groups on this planet. We are so “righteous,” so “spiritual” and so knowledgeable in the ways of God. Yet, it seems to me that more often then not we are no less militant, angry and petty than any other social group in our world today.