Showimg Mercy

God is a God of grace. This means that, whatever we get from God is not given to us based on merit. It is a divine nature of God to be good to all.  The church is called to be like Christ. If Christ is graceful. How does the church display grace in a society that seem graceless? These three different stories from the book, ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace’ would give you a hint.

A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter-two years old!-to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable-I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.

At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naïve shock that crossed her face “Church!” She cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”

In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals, or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling. Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theatre off Broadway said, “Stop that grinning! You’re in church!” With that she gave him a belt and as the tears rolled down his cheeks added, “That’s better,” and returned to her prayer.

Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears, and if you’re not, then you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us….. By tradition, one wears faith with the solemnity of a mourner, the gravity of a mask of tragedy, and the dedication of a Rotary badge.

What a fool, I thought. Here was a woman sitting next to the only light left in our civilization-the only hope, our only miracle- our only promise of infinity. If he couldn’t smile in church, where was left to go?

Peter Greave wrote a memoir of his life with leprosy, a disease he contracted while stationed in India. He returned to England, half-blind and partially paralyzed, to live on a compound run by a group of Anglican sisters. Unable to work, an outcast from society, he turned bitter. He thought of suicide. He made elaborate plans to escape the compound, but always backed out because he had nowhere to go. One morning, uncharacteristically, he got up very early and strolled the grounds. Hearing a buzzing noise, he followed it to the chapel, where sisters were praying for the patients whose names were written on it’s wall. Among the names, he found his own. Somehow that experience of connection, of linking, changed the course of his life. He felt wanted. He felt graced.

“Doesn’t the bible say we must love everybody?”

“O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many things; but, then nobody ever thinks of doing them”

We speak of grace often. But do we understand it? More importantly, do we truly believe in it….? And do our lives proclaim it as powerfully as our words?



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