The past week or so has been horrific in the news. 50 human beings in a night club were gunned down by a crazed gunman in Orlando. The gunman called the police and then continued his rampage. Then he waited until he could shoot himself with an audience. Not too long ago a little boy climbed through a fence and dropped down into the moat of a 400 pound gorilla. The gorilla got agitated and nearly drowned the boy. Twice. The gorilla was shot because the zoo keepers determined a tranquilizer gun would only cause the gorilla to go berzerk and there was a greater chance he would kill the little boy. Then there was the little boy killed by an alligator in a man made lagoon in part of a Disney resort. He was only two years old and not even out of reach of his father when the hungry alligator attacked and dragged the boy under. The father fought the alligator but it was too strong for him. Just yesterday the boy’s body was recovered and the grieving family has to return to Nebraska where they will bury their little one much, much too soon.
All of these are tragedies which we, as a society should grieve over. Instead, I see way too many insensitive grace-less comments from total strangers that will only hurt the families of these people more. As another blogger, said, stop the blame. I would take it one step further though and say that today’s world is in desperate need of Grace with a capital ‘g’. Our world is lost in our own indignation and finger pointing and trying to figure out who’s to blame. I would say, ‘why can’t we all be a little more gracious and forgiving?’ but I know why we aren’t. We live in a world that doesn’t know the meaning of grace because they don’t know the giver and creator of grace.
Just a quick reminder of the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve, even though they may deserve the utmost punishment. Grace is giving someone what they don’t deserve, even at the cost of our own comfort. God gives both mercy and grace and varying times. I have been on the receiving end of both many times, yet struggle so hard with giving those to other people. Why? I think it’s because I am too deeply rooted in a world that doesn’t have much use for either mercy or grace. Perhaps I’ll write a blog on mercy sometime, but for now, let’s focus on grace.
One of my favourite songs growing up, which I still sing to my daughter before bed most nights, is Amazing Grace. I had not really thought about the lyrics too much until just this past week. What is so amazing about grace anyway? Well, when it’s in short supply it’s pretty amazing to think about the ultimate grace. God, in his immense and incredible grace saved us from our sins and eternity in hell.
We deserve hell. All of us. There is no ‘good person’ who will be spared what we deserve. We can never be freed from the chains that hang around our necks and cause us to stoop all day every day, on our own. There’s just no way. Sin is too destructive and God is too holy to go near it. So what did he do so we could be free and be close to Him, the creator of grace? He sent His one and only son to earth to die and take the penalty of our sins on himself. He went to Hell.
Yes. You heard me right. Jesus went into Hell. And He took all that penalty and all our sins with Him. But He didn’t stay there. He rose again and went up to Heaven (after making a pit stop on earth so over 500 eyewitnesses could tell the rest of the world about it) and He’s there preparing a place for anyone who believes in Him and accepts that payment He already took on our behalf. This is so incredible to me. That’s grace. So, I guess you could say, I answered my own question of ‘Whatever happened to grace?’
God showed us immeasurable grace. He was the ultimate example of how to stop blaming others and start extending grace to others. We are all humans on this broken earth. We all need God’s grace. I think we don’t extend that grace to our fellow human beings for two reasons. The first is that we as a society may haven’t experienced God’s grace first hand or shrug the gospel story off as fiction. The second is those of us who have experienced His grace have forgotten just how badly we need that grace.
So, if there is anything I’d like to leave you with, it’s again, two things. First, if you are a Christian and have experienced God’s grace first hand, try to remember to extend that grace to your fellow human beings. Second, if you haven’t experienced it, you may know a Christian or two who can point you in the right direction. If you don’t, may I recommend stepping inside the walls of your local Bible believing church and sitting through a sermon or two and getting to know the others in the congregation?
I am looking forward to a day when everyone extends grace instead of blame. I know that won’t be this side of Heaven, but I hope we will be a little closer by the time my daughter is old enough to sing the words of Amazing Grace to her children.
Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.