Grace for a Scary Season

I’m not fond of this season. The yard displays, the masks, the gore, so much creepiness on TV. Think of what it is teaching our children.

I’m not talking about Halloween.

It’s mid-term election season. These days elections seem to bring out the worst in human behavior. And it’s not just “those people.” I find myself arguing with campaign commercials, or making snap judgments about people with certain yard signs. It’s ugly.

Let’s face it: it’s nothing new. Humans argue. Passions overtake us, and we do violence to one another, using weapons ranging from words to missiles. It’s no wonder that Jesus reframed the ancient commandments in his teaching of Matthew 5-7. He said it’s not just what we do, but what we allow to fester inside our hearts that makes us fight. “Be reconciled to your brother or sister,” he said. “Love your enemies,” he commanded. “Do not judge.”

These are not merely nice ideas. Jesus embodied these commands for our sake, telling us to follow in his footsteps so we can enjoy abundant, meaningful life together.

But there is a virus among us, and it affects not only our political values. It infects families, congregations, schools—everywhere humans live and work. 

It is the “I can’t” virus.

I can’t deal with this anymore.

I can’t sit in the same room with them.

I can’t worship with all of this in my head.

I can’t pay attention to the controversy, I just want live my life comfortably.

I recognize this virus because I have suffered from it many times. But this I have learned.

No, you can’t.

But God can.

We forget that. We forget that God can forgive when we can’t. We forget that 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient, kind, doesn’t bear a grudge, etc.) was written for people who were mistreating one another. We forget that humans throughout history—including the church—have always, always had disagreements and fights and even violence while believing they were on God’s “side.” God doesn’t have sides. God just loves.

And that is what God invites, calls, expects us to do: love. Remember, friends, what you love about the people who have made you angry. Remember all the years of worshiping or working or just being family or neighbors together, the seasons celebrated, the losses mourned together. Remember, and forgive.

Yes, forgive. This is the hardest work of love, and you can’t do it. Not on your own. But God can. Remember the story of Corrie Ten Boom, who survived the concentration camp where her dear sister Betsy died. When one of the guards who tortured and debased and killed Betsy and so many others in that camp came to one of her talks, Corrie recognized him. He came up to her and asked to be forgiven. What did she do? She did not say, “I can’t.” She prayed in that instant, “Jesus, I can’t forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.” And that is what happened. Jesus gave her the forgiveness to give that man. Grace happened. Love happened.

Are you tired of the resentment? Then you are ready for grace to heal you, and only God can make it happen. Ask God to change your heart. It’s the only heart you are responsible for.

Healing relationships takes time and hard work. It requires humility and listening and restraint. You will need to confess as well as forgive. It will feel like death.

But what comes after death? Resurrection. What Jesus showed us through the cross and resurrection is that love cannot be killed. Love can and will prevail. God is love.

You can’t. God can. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Good news for all of us humans. 

5 thoughts on “Grace for a Scary Season

  1. What a wonderful graceful reminder of the power of the Gospel and our lord Jesus. Thank you for reminding me, especially in this “Season”!

    Like

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