Goodness gracious

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Goodness gracious.

Grace. It’s a concept few really get. It basically means forgiveness. It means that despite your shortcomings, your failures, your wrongs, you are still loved and accepted. That’s a fundamental part of Christianity. At least it’s supposed to be.

There are those who question grace. If you really had faith, you wouldn’t have screwed up in the first place. And they turn their head. Or it may just be a negative word said to someone else in private. Or a smug look, or a grudge that never fades. Some think that your failures continually crucify Christ, and somehow that behavior requires their condemnation.

Grace is something the church needs to rediscover. We have become self-righteous. We are more concerned with the filth flowing from a sinner’s mouth than we are with the eternal state of their soul. We are more concerned with how something looks to others than we are for the actual people involved. We are more concerned with the visible consequences that come with some sins than we are with the hidden sins that resulted in those consequences.

The Pharisees had no grace. They wanted to cast stones upon the woman caught in adultery. My great-grandmother was also caught in adultery. A public apology was demanded, which my shy great-grandmother couldn’t bring herself to do. A quiet and fair settlement was reached, but in the proceedings a woman consented, with the caveat that in the future all sexual sin in the church would be publicly confessed. It sounds more like a soap opera than the minutes from a church business meeting. Where is the grace? We have become Pharisees.

Times do change, but often they do not. One generation’s dirty laundry repeats itself. And while the dirty laundry may always be there, our reaction does not have to be the same. Mistakes are forgiven. And forgotten.

The church should be the most grace-filled place in any community. Everyone in that community, from the lowest outcast to the wealthiest gentleman should feel acceptance from Christians. Isn’t that why we bear the name?

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