This post was written at one in the morning in the middle of staffing Summit. The ideas here are what I have learned and been shown over the summer.
Starting a post at one in the morning after a full day of Ultimate, counseling students, and organizing waivers, all of which on a less than full stomach and after getting up at 5:30 to take my guys to coffee, may not have been the best of ideas (hence this seemingly never ending run on sentence), but I’ve got several things that I’m processing that I need to get out of me.
People are hard.
Don’t get me wrong, people are fantastic. I love people. The ideas, depth, love, grace, joy, and encouragement we have the capability to pour into each other is fantastic.
But we also have an infinite capacity to fight the unfamiliar, hate what we don’t understand or don’t like, respond with aggression or defensiveness. We want blow holes in the foundations of our fellows without offering to help rebuild from the damage.
Fear and Pride (which is frequently rooted in the fear of inadequacy, or the fear of man much of the time) are the two biggest detriments to living as we are called to live.
The ignorant can be taught, but when we aren’t humble enough to learn, we destroy much of our claims to accuracy. Dogmatism is neither a virtue, nor a sin, but it can be either, depending on the attitude behind it. Non-negotiables have their place, but it’s not on the front end of a relationship.
I’m rambling, and now it’s 1:10.
I guess I do have a point to this.
It’s not as simple as saying ‘be open minded’ because that’s part of the problem. A blind acceptance of any viewpoint, under the guise of ‘that works for you’ is a major problem.
Which is not to say we should be close-minded by any stretch of the imagination either. A foolish pig-headedness is the ruling stereotype and preconception that follows Christendom like an emaciated mountain lion.
Grace is key.
Grace is the key to any and all human interaction. Without grace, we either heap judgement or drop critical thinking.
Grace is the counterpoint to fear and pride. Grace is where love meets humility.
Grace and Mercy have been the key character traits that I find exemplified in Christ. Grace is an outpouring of His Mercy-His choice not to give use the just consequence for our actions.
We, unless in a position of authority, don’t deal much in the commodity of Mercy. Mercy is the withholding of a negative, but just, consequence. Grace is the doling out of an opposite and positive consequence.
It was the fourth of July recently, and we shot off some fireworks, threw some snaps, and played with some sparklers.
The fun isn’t just in the bottle rockets shooting off, roman candles bursting in air, it’s in lighting the things and stepping back as you watch your destructive power unfold in the sky above.
Unfortunately, we frequently act like either a firework, or a person with a match. (I’m intentionally using first person plural pronouns here, as I’m preaching at myself as much as at anyone else).
I’m a bit of both. I’m sure you felt that twinge of sadistic pleasure as you cautiously light the fuse, then step back to watch the show. I’m also sure you’ve been on the receiving end of that lighter and made a truly spectacular explosion in the night sky.
While there is much to say about the person who lights the fuse, we aren’t actually fireworks. We’re people. We have fingers and can cut that fuse off and respond with grace.
Yes, it’s difficult, yes it’s uncomfortable, and yes, it feels much more fulfilling when the person with the match forgets to stick the bottle rocket in the ground before lighting it. But that’s not how relationships are built.
That’s not the pattern of behavior we see in the scriptures.
Christ didn’t make a fantastic show of angels appear in the sky to pull him down off the cross. He didn’t make the men who spat on him and whipped him blind or lame. Jesus Christ, off whom we are to model our lives after, exemplified grace on a level that we simply can’t even comprehend.
Can you imagine being the omnipotent, omniscient, creator of the universe, and willingly submit yourself to the horrors of a Roman crucifixion?
We as human beings can’t even begin to comprehend the former, and, as Americans especially, the latter is nearly as difficult to understand.
Christ set the bar high when He said ‘come follow me,’ Paul echoes this in 1 Corinthians 11:1.
Grace is at the core of what gives us our Christianity, Grace is what makes this relationship possible to begin with.
I guess what I’m realizing over the last 24 hours and four weeks in general is that Grace is more than an ideal. Grace is ‘Christ in Skin.’ Grace is more than ‘doing to others as you would have them do to you.’ Grace is about extending a minute fraction of the inexplicably large helpings of Mercy that has been poured on us from heaven to those around us.
If only that they may taste the same Mercy we’ve been given.