What about grace? I was raised a Lutheran, and that is nearly always the first question I ask when I hear Christians get legalistic and judgmental. The Bible is often their proof that this is how Jesus would feel or what he would do.
That makes me wonder if we know the same Christ.
Jesus came for all. He invited sinners into his life and work. He appointed people who had as many faults–as all humans do–to do his sacred work. Why then do we continue to exclude rather than to include; to divide rather than unite?
What would Jesus do? Love all people. He would open his arms and embrace them with their warts and all. How is it that we can claim to understand Jesus and still cut people out of our lives?
A little life lesson in grace
One year, in preparation for the Christmas program, I had my sixth-grade Sunday school students help slide the altar off the platform to the sanctuary floor. About mid-lift, I realized we hadn’t moved the communion ware off the altar. Wine and goblets crashed to the floor splashing and staining the paraments and carpet. The kids were shocked and a bit frightened. “Uh-oh, Pastor Steve is gonna be so mad at you!” I replied, “No, he is not. Accidents happen, and this was an accident. Forgetful on my part, too much in a hurry, but still an accident.”
I was impressed when Pastor Steve arrived and started helping us clean up the mess. When the kids asked if he was mad, he said, “Accidents happen.”
Okay, dumping the communion ware was not earth-shattering in the way some other actions requiring grace might be, but for those children, it demonstrated more than anything else what it meant to extend grace to someone.
We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world. If you are the only Christ someone sees, what will they see?
We are not called to discriminate or judge
If only it were it so easy for us as adults to extend grace. It seems that whenever our pride, our passion, our convictions, or anything ‘near and dear’ to us is involved, it is harder to see our way to grace.
One can be angry or hurt and still extend grace. God does it all the time for us.
People will always disagree about something. Agree to disagree and treat one another with respect and grace, even when it is hard. This is what Christ calls us to do.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world. If you are the only Christ someone sees, what will they see? What sort of attributes will Christ–through you–have? Will they catch a glimpse of grace?
Tricia Niesche is a retired elementary teacher who serves as president of the Saint Paul Area Synodical Women’s Organization. She writes for a variety of organizations and her church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Circle Pines, Minn.