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Grace, Anyone?

October 1, 2018

 

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Hebrews 4:16, ESV 

 

I’m not going to get into the sordid details of what we have been watching unfold over the past week. That has been done to death, and the degree to which we scrutinize this sort of thing is somewhat troubling, to say nothing of the way we have witnessed friends and strangers speak to each other about it, nor the accuracy with which one can guess the political stance of someone based solely on the clever memes he or she posts in regard. But I do have some thoughts on the general state of the discourse. So here we go.

 

Our opinions of the people involved and our assessment of the case are largely based on what we already believe politically. Whether you think Ford is telling the truth, or if Kavanaugh is, and whether you care to admit it or not, you had your mind made up before you saw a single minute of the proceedings. Having had several conversations with people on both sides of the aisle, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Good Lord himself could come down, in all his wisdom and glory, and tell you that you have got it wrong, and you’d say “Yeah, but….” And then fill it in with some reason or another why you don’t believe it or are otherwise skeptical of the motivations of the other.  But the fact is, you weren’t there, you don’t actually know, and so your opinion of it is irrelevant. I say this having also spouted my own opinions this week, and then looked back and realized that I also have spoken out of bias, even as I have sworn to see objectively. And look, I realize that it is almost impossible to not have an opinion, and I realize that this case speaks to larger issues that are of great concern for individuals and our society as a whole; but try and hold your opinions with the humility that you are judging it from an armchair, and not from any sort of evidence beyond what you see on TV, and remember that fact when you are throwing attacks at people who are, you know, actually in your life. I’ve literally watched friendships disintegrate this week over people sounding off on social media, misconstruing what each other say and then painting each other with broad brushes. So be careful what you say and how you say it, because all anyone really wants is the truth—but only a few people have all the facts, none of whom are you or me. While you’re mulling that one over, remember…

 

God cares for the accused and the accuser equally. This is a horrible thing to witness—a woman with clear pain over abuse she experienced, and a man who steadfastly maintains that he is not the guilty party. I wasn’t there to witness it 35 years ago, and so I don’t actually know. I wish I was as clairvoyant as some other people seem to be. At any rate, it is important to remember that God loves both of the people on either side of this fight, and his heart breaks for them both, even as one of them professes to be a victim of the other, even as one says he stands falsely accused. Whoever did what, God’s love is for the sinner, Christ heart is for the hurt; Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery as readily as he forgave a criminal crucified beside him. There is not a crime in the world for which Christ did not die, whether it is a malicious lie, or a crime against another’s dignity. Speaking of which…

 

God’s grace is not ours to withhold from anyone, for any reason, ever. In all of the back and forth I have seen on news reports, on social media, and in my conversations, I am startled at how hurtful and vindictive people have spoken of strangers who they will never meet, and to people who they see every day. We are all of us broken, sinful, and hurting people. It is a shame to think that we cannot find it in ourselves to extend grace to one another when so much grace has been poured out for us already. As I mentioned before, people I know on both sides of the political spectrum are as sincere in their desire for the truth as the other. The fact that we do not agree on what truth the facts reveal is not grounds for us to treat each other poorly, or speak to each other with contempt. If we all got what we deserved for our transgressions, we’d all be in a Hell of a lot worse shape than we are already in. The past couple of years, and this week in particular, I have seen too much disdain between people who claim to be loving, and too much condemnation where there should be grace. And I have been guilty of it as well. For that, and to whom it may concern, I am deeply sorry. It reminds me that….

 

What this situation needs is prayer, not commentary. I realize that some of you reading this do not hold my views on faith, and I respect that. But to my friends who do, and particularly those of you in ministry and positions of leadership and influence in your congregations, I want to remind you that in times like this, what the world needs, what people need, and what this situation needs, is prayer. There is plenty of opinion, and more than enough commentary. But God help us, we who are people of faith need to be careful not to damage our witness by speaking dismissively, by trying to win arguments, or by trying to undermine the or question the integrity of people who we know personally. A lot of questions have been raised, a lot of wounds have been opened, and this whole situation is a reminder not just of the state of our society here and now, but of the broken nature of humanity as a whole, and the desperate need we have of the Savior. And since none of us have the power to fix the hurt of the world, it would do us better to lift our care and our pain to the One who does, and while we’re at it, lift each other.

 

So there you have it. My two cents. My prayer this week is simply for grace to abound with the people who I know and love. My hope is that my brothers and sisters in the faith would join me in that. Let’s silence our mouths, still our hands, and lift our hearts that we might lift each other, rather than trying so hard to tear ourselves apart.

 

Y’all take care, and be good to one another.

 

Jem

 

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