I sat in church today and again thought about God, grace, failure and people. I was reminded by the text used in the sermon of the story of the woman about to be stoned for adultery. I heard Jesus say, “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.” I thought about that and pondered how hard it is for human beings to forgive others when they fail.
We have some great Christian friends that have loved, accepted and shown nothing but the grace of forgiveness but we have also felt the sting of rejection. Rejection from those that chose to walk away from business relationships and those that have walked away from professional ministry and personal relationships. By walking away I mean literally walking away . . . no contact, no explanation, just silence.
Apparently it’s always been hard for people to think like God thinks. I certainly have experienced people in my life that have failed in ministry one way or the other and I know that my reaction was not as life-giving and or loving as it should have been. I’ve repented many times for this in the last two years among other things. On the other side of grace one develops a completely different view of God, the church and people.
Historically, for some reason people have struggled with the mercy and grace of God for others. I thought today about Nineveh and Jonah’s reluctance to go there because the people were really sinful and he knew that he would preach to them and that they would respond and that God would forgive. That alone made him run the other way. Amazing.
I’ve already written extensively about the prodigal son’s older brother that was awash with bitterness at his father’s lavish forgiveness for his wayward brother. The father of course, represented God and I can testify that His mercy, grace and forgiveness is real. It is not begrudging and it can be overwhelming in a good way.
So I am left to wonder what I can do to tell the story of God’s truly amazing grace. What I can do to help others come to see the fallen and flawed as equals in the economy of God’s grace? Our churches are filled with people who have personal failure and brokenness but they dare not expose it or confess it for fear of the judgement and shunning that will follow. Some of you reading this have hidden sins that you would be horrified to expose yet you find yourself judging others whose sins have been made public. How easy that is and how unfair to yourself.
To my fellow pilgrims on the other side of grace I hope you can accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself on this day. I know it’s painful. I know that others hurt because of our brokeness and choices but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you just as much as He loves the perfect “saint.” He really does. The Psalmist who knew something of failure wrote these words, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 Let these words ooze into your heart and mind. Here they are as stand alone words: merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He loves you so very much. You are not unworthy because He makes you worthy. Let Him love you and let His love make up for the lack that others can’t or choose not to provide. Hold your head high not in arrogance but “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”