If you have missed my previous posts (which, unless you are a family member of mine, is 99% likely), I am taking some time in this crazy season to think about some things that are normally true about life but are now especially clear due to COVID-19. This strange season that we are in is like a spotlight, illuminating things that are always there, but perhaps just less clearly visible during other times of life. The short list I came up with is this:
- We are not in control
- We long for significance and security
- We (and things) are complicated
- We need grace from/for each other
- We are deeply interconnected
- We are more selfish than we think
- We have a great capacity for love
This next observation is especially important in relation to the previous observation, and is actually a pretty simple one. The truth is that everything is complicated, and we ourselves are complicated people. That has become increasingly clear as this pandemic has gone on. It is a constantly changing, one of a kind, confusing and complicated situation. The complicated nature of it means that we are pretty bad at knowing how to respond. It also means that we are inevitably going to get things wrong, make mistakes, change our minds, say the wrong things, do the wrong things, etc. Really quick example: How many of us are eating our words from early March when we said this was something only people in other countries would deal with? Ouch.
The fact that it is complicated, and the fact that we are going to make mistakes, illuminates the extraordinary need for grace. For each other. From each other. Unfortunately, we are pretty bad at it. We love to say things like “But you said..!” or “But what about…?” We love to point fingers, name names, and shift blame. We are great at calling out the hypocrisy in other people, while ignoring our own faults, mistakes, slipped words, and wrong ideas (which, for me to be pointing this out is in itself hypocritical, because I am guilty of this all the time). If we continually point fingers and accuse everyone and anyone who has made a mistake during this time, we will tear each other down so much that nobody will be left standing. Can we please cut each other some slack?
Now for my beloved caveats. First, this doesn’t mean people should not be held accountable for actions and words that have great consequences. To quote the overquoted, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So to have grace for one another is not an excuse for anyone to continue acting ignorantly. Rather, having grace for one another means giving people the opportunity to turn from their mistakes, to change their minds, to set things right. It means we don’t write people off at their first misstep.
Second, as with all the other observations, this is always true. We always need grace, because we are always going to make mistakes and fall short. We are always going to be wrong about some things, and we are always going to let each down in more ways than we can count. Healthy relationships are dependent on heavy doses of grace.
Finally, this need for grace that we can see practically in our day to day lives has a great foundation in scripture. Grace is at the heart of the Gospel. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” The Christian worldview gives us a source, and a reason, for the grace that we all need. It is honest about our condition, and the fact that we all do indeed fall short. There is no sugarcoating that. Placed up next to the God of the universe, who can stand? And yet, in our equally fallen state, we are shown immeasurable grace, through Christ, that sets us into a right relationship with God. Then, as people who have been shown such incredible grace, we are called to go out and show grace to one another.
The logic is this: Humans are in need of grace from one another. We are also in need of grace from God. God offers grace through the person and work of Christ. If we have experienced that grace, then we should be leading the way in showing grace to others. This means that Christians have an opportunity to live in this world with the resources to meet one of humanity’s greatest needs: the need for grace. We can not only show it to the world in our interactions with others, but we can also point them to the true source of that grace. What an amazing opportunity in a world full of people who are longing for grace.