Losing Grace

Losing Grace
 
     I’ve come to believe that the beloved Hymn Amazing Grace is missing a verse. It does a great job talking about the grace God has given us and the eternal life that it blesses us with. But one of Jesus’ commands to us is that we share the grace we’ve received with others—both in terms of leading others to faith (Matthew 28:19) and forgiving those who’ve hurt us (Matthew 6:14-15)
 
Grace is a concept that our culture is rapidly losing. Our politically polarized, “gotcha” society will cull old social media comments, e-mails, or recordings to destroy a political enemy’s credibility, regardless of how long ago it happened, whether or not a person expresses sincere remorse, or if his life since then has demonstrated growth and change. People will quickly pounce on the wrongdoing of someone on the other side of the political aisle, while ignoring or rationalizing the sins of one of their own, because winning the culture war is more important than being ethical or even intellectually honest.      
 
The result is that we’ve lost the concept of grace. If repentance and change doesn’t do any good, it’s easy to just give up on the need to do it—especially if a person has no spiritual motivation to be virtuous for its own sake. People get to the point that they don’t sincerely repent because that would weaken their public position and hinder their cause. They either deny the transgression or offer a weak, “mistakes were made, but we need to move on”-type of apology where there’s no real remorse, restitution, or change. That lack of repentance hardens the feelings of those on the other side of the aisle, and it makes both sides even less willing to offer real grace.      
 
And the unfortunate thing is that Christians are often just as guilty as non-Christians. We get on Facebook or Twitter—where the hard feelings and the division is only exacerbated—and post comments that simply serve to entrench their readers more deeply in the beliefs they already hold. And the more entrenched we get, the less patience and grace we have for those on the other side.      
 
Jesus didn’t give us an option on forgiveness, though. The Matthew 6 passage that we cited above says, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” In other words, don’t burn the bridge you have to walk across to get to heaven. As Christians, we should be so appreciative of the grace we’ve been given that we’re more than willing to offer it to those who need it from us.      
 
I believe that this situation in our culture offers us an opportunity to show the power and importance of grace, as it becomes in shorter and shorter supply. Our country was deeply moved by the survivors of the Charleston, SC church shooting when they chose to forgive the shooter and pleaded with him to repent and give his life to Christ. Almost daily we face situations where we’re faced with the opportunity to offer or withhold grace, and people are watching. Let’s renew our commitment to sharing the amazing grace we’ve received with everyone who needs it      
 
As for the hymn, maybe this will spark an idea in a real songwriter:      
 
From chains of sin, my soul ensnared,      
God’s grace has set me free;      
“With all the world that pardon share,”      
His one enduring plea.

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