Grace teaches us to see others, no matter their sin or dysfunction, and sincerely say, “We are the same.”
Whenever I visit someone in jail, as I did again just recently, I am struck by what is for me a profound thought. It especially hits me as I walk back out into the sunshine and the sound of iron doors locking behind me is still echoing in my mind. The thought is this:
“That could be me in there and not out here.”
I glimpse in that moment with frightening clarity the thin line of circumstances and choices that make the difference between my brother’s lot inside and mine outside.
- I look into my own heart and know that if even some of what lurks there had been converted into action…
- I consider my history and realize that if my parents, mentors, and surroundings had been less idyllic…
- I think of my current capacities for anger or selfishness and realize how close to the line of lawlessness I can get…
And I know in that moment I’m simply a criminal who hasn’t gotten caught.
That the blue sky I’m seeing and the free air I’m breathing are not what I deserve, but that I’m living in grace.
Grace removes the self-righteous separation we can build between ourselves and others. Grace helps us see others for the fellow flawed humans they are. Grace dissolves the stops that keep true love from flowing between us.
Indeed, I’ve found that ultimately it’s impossible to love–at least to love for very long at all–without grace.
“Give as freely as you have received!” Jesus said. (Matthew 10:8 NLT) The sooner we learn this the better we love and live–inside and out.