“It doesn’t take grace to be kind toward someone you agree with. It can take a lot of grace to continue a relationship with someone you have trouble with.”
— Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?
Living the Christian life can seem to be the promise of a wonderful experience, where God is with us, providing for us and protecting us. And whilst this is true to a certain extent, we should know that the Christian life is more about handling reality better, and more maturely and perhaps we had in the past.
The crunch comes for the Christian in their relationships; all of them. The worst relationship is a benchmark. Should a Christian have an enemy; any enemy? Well there are idealistic and pragmatic answers that may not agree, but certainly the challenge before us, to do all we can do to get on tolerably with all those we are in contact with.
Jesus says it himself, in Matthew 5:46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have,” and he goes on to say that even pagans can be kind to those they love.
Just How Low Grace Goes
Grace is not simply tolerating (in a begrudging sort of way) the person in our midst we don’t agree with. It is much, much more. We might justify ourselves for limiting the extension of grace to someone, by extending to them conditional love – conditional on some rules we place around the relationship. But grace is much, much more.
Grace is that pursuing a relationship that might give faltering or forlorn or even farcical. The grace of God continues to chase after the lost undespairingly. It refuses to give up. Indeed, because God is in control grace cannot give up, and it continues to go forward by risking in faith.
Grace goes to many measures below the waterline and plumbs the depths of the sea of conflict. Like any loving father or mother would, grace cannot give up on its children, which, for the purposes of this, is an undying belief of the goodness within another soul, no matter how dark that soul may be right now.
Grace scoops much deeper than we realise in resurrecting our hopes. Likewise, as we relate with those we have trouble with, there is the opportunity to grow in grace. The more trouble we have, the more grace we can show.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.