Do you think it’s sometimes easier to be merciful towards the ‘big’ sinners–murderers, thieves, rapists, and so on? This morning I was disparaging about a family member whose husband is ill. Her requests for prayers and support are more about her than him, and I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic, much less inclined to pray for her.
Later I read an article about a man who raped a six-month old baby to death. Through the disgust I found myself thinking something along the lines of, well, everyone deserves grace–even him. I was more gracious about this guy’s crime than my aunt’s relatively harmless (and even understandable) narcissism.
Have you ever experienced anything similar? It made me feel like a prat and I wondered if we have the reverse situation going now than in Jesus’ time: where we are more likely to forgive or help strangers, these ‘others’, than we are the people in our own backyards over weekends, on our Facebook timelines, in our living rooms.
Maybe it’s because for most of, these ‘others’ are on the periphery of our lives: they live in news bulletins or in ghettos or in quiet whispers about ‘someone who knows someone who knows’. They don’t buy us birthday presents or spam our e-mail accounts with chain letters. We can afford to be gracious because doing so does not fundamentally alter our lives.
But extending grace at home, at work, in shopping malls, at birthday dinners, to the people we see every day–that’s not always so easy. We tend to grade sins, and unfortunately our magnanimity about those who commit them sometimes grows in relation to how big we think the transgressions are. The ‘smaller’ sins slip through the cracks of daily life, into that shady area of ‘habit’.
But all grace is radical, and everyone, regardless of who they are, what they are, whether those parameters fall within or outside our families, communities or comfort zones, deserves grace. Even slightly histrionic aunts :).
All grace is grace.