I’ve been thinking about grace lately, the kind that can be bestowed on others for “regeneration and sanctification.” It’s the opposite of retaliation.

Such lovely concepts. But do we Americans live in a space of grace? Where did it go? We seem so angry and polarized.   

I’ve also been thinking about the story of the “woman caught in adultery” from last week’s post. The Mosaic law said to kill her. Jesus chose to forgive her. He extended grace. He didn’t soften the meaning of adultery. He called sin sin, but he didn’t condemn her for it, which technically broke the law. He “should” have picked up the first rock. That would have been more equitable. After all, she messed up.

But what about when WE mess up? Are we more interested in grace or justice? I don’t know about you, but if given the choice between death for our shortcomings or the chance for regeneration and sanctification (a makeover and purification), grace looks pretty good.

At least for us.

Maybe other people should get the justice they deserve.

And therein is the problem.

We want mercy, but man, it’s hard to forgive others who are so clearly in the wrong. At least we think they’re clearly in the wrong. I wonder who was more wrong in this biblical scenario—the woman or the people scouting around for big, jagged rocks? Maybe both. Shoot, we all have our moments of being in the wrong.  

There’s another part to last week’s story. When questioned about the woman. “…Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” John 8:6-8

By stooping down and writing on the ground, he paused. Maybe it bought him a minute to think through the dance between justice and mercy. And to see the person.

Then he chose mercy.

When we’re triggered by another person who is “clearly in the wrong,” there’s something we can do. We can pause…and buy ourselves a minute to see that person. There might be wounds, a back story, a why. Pausing just might give grace a fighting chance.

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