This year, I’ve had the chance to travel throughout the state, seeing every part of California whether it be the Oregon or Mexican border. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that whoever I am traveling with better get along with me or it would be a long journey! There was one moment in particular that got me thinking. My teammate was completing a college application and asked me a question that she had encountered as part of the process.
“What is society’s achilles heal? Meaning, what is something in our world that can seem so small, so overlooked, but yet hold immense value?” she asked. Looking at the time, it appeared that we had 4 hours until our next stop, so we embarked on this conversation.
I had concluded that my subjective (though some would argue is highly objective) opinion of our achilles heal would be grace. Without it, we would find problems thickening and our hope of a Christ-like world would quickly diminish.
Sounds superficial, right? We’ve heard this word tossed around as if it’s taken with a grain of salt. That dancer is graceful. In the beginning of a relationship we enter a grace period. Before dinner we say grace.
There are two ways that we can demonstrate grace and show the weight of it’s meaning as Christians:
1) Noticeable Grace
During this year, we spend quite a bit of time with our advisor and his family. He has two young children and we typically have the luxury to occupy them. I’m not sure if all kids are like them, but these two are absolutely nuts. One minute they want to dance, the next we are playing a game, and back to dancing, they always need to be occupied! Regardless, with this energy comes issues. One time in particular, his son was clearly eating something that we wasn’t supposed to. And every time it was taken away, you can bet that he went right back to it. My advisor was frustrated, and although his son needed a spanking or something, he took a deep breath, calmly told him to stop, and the evening continued.
His son clearly deserved a punishment, but his dad showed him grace.
By the common eye, I could notice it though this situation. And as believers, we experience grace on a daily basis. Scripture tells us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” and yet through The Lord’s no-strings-attached grace, we are washed clean. We can see grace. We know how to demonstrate it, after all, it’s practiced on us daily.
2) Unnoticeable Grace
During Biblical times, if a woman was caught in adultery she would be thrown into a the courtyard, where the bystanders would hurl insults and harsh statements, only to be accompanied by stones. To our western culture, this seems far-fetched for anyone in a civilized society to do. But we do this all of the time.
It just depends what our “courtyard” is.
In conversations, it’s ridiculously easy to gossip. In an instant, our mouth can reveal the thoughts of our heart (Matt. 15:18) and before we know it, we are figuratively tossing our friends in the courtyard without them knowing it, hurling our own rocks toward them. We demonstrate unnoticeable grace through refusing gossip.
Look, I enjoy reading a good rant on social media every now and then, but Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be our biggest, public courtyard. On average, Americans check their accounts 17 times per day and a simple shared article, a “I never do this on social media, but I need to tell you my opinion on the 2016 president candidates” post, and viral videos can easily shame someone and ultimately “give them what they deserve” according to our standard. We demonstrate unnoticeable grace through refusing to exploit others on social media.
So I urge you to think, what is your courtyard? We all live with conviction, and I certainly know that this is topic is one of mine. How can we demonstrate both noticeable and unnoticeable grace in our lives? After all, Jesus told the persecutors in the courtyard “let he who is without sin through the first stone” (John 8:7).