Grace is a fantastic concept but it is flawed in this world. It exists only to the extent of the will of the person extending gracious favour. It cannot be forced or coerced out of anyone. It is hence a voluntary gift of love and even much of the Christian world frequently gets it wrong.
So, why would we expect to see it displayed in our non-Christian world?
But, we often do expect it of people who’ve got no interest in it.
We get cut off in traffic and we think, “How dare they!” and still we’re found doing the very same thing, due to a lapse or because we’re in a hurry (because on the roads none of us is beyond human error). Still, we see their error as intentional and ours as an innocent mistake. ‘Grace’ is polarised.
We’re not getting closer to it in this but further away.
Just because we may be ‘forgiving’ in our approach to life, we tend to then project that onto others as they relate with us. We come to expect them to forgive us. But they see the world through different eyes, a different filter for a heart—not better, just different.
They will not learn forgiveness via our legalist standards. The grace in forgiveness is a miracle. If they cannot see the miracle they’ll polarise back to what they know.
We haven’t convinced them one iota. In other words, we didn’t allow the Spirit to speak through us in our aberrant grace-engorged tolerance.
Or perhaps we live to an ethic of servant leadership and yet we get disgruntled when people trample us in the stampede for power. How can we possibly blame them? We left the door wide open for them. We can just imagine their consternation for our legalism in demanding they interact with us in certain ways. Suddenly our ‘love’ isn’t so loving.
No wonder we complain for being ‘doormats’. But we cannot have it both ways.
Living the Christian Ethic – It’s a Serious Call
It may very well be our biggest ever challenge; learning to live gracefully in the midst of many horrors, disappointments, injustices and myriad calamity.
God knows we can do it, but it’s going to cost us. At times the cost will be too difficult for us to bear and we’ll capitulate. It’s during these times, however, that we’re learning both our limits and even more grace for the future.
Perhaps we need to constantly allow the Spirit of God that resides in us to remind us that it’s merely a crucially important part of our ongoing discipleship to Christ.
That is to issue grace without any strings attached.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.