The radical, nonsensical nature of grace

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Grace makes absolutely no sense.

From a biblical standpoint, most of us can accept this. God’s grace for us cannot be earned. We are unworthy. And yet, God poured out grace on us in the blessed blood of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are taught that, most of us, from the earliest days of Sunday school. We expect that lesson in church. We look for it in Scripture. We want to hear it in sermons and devotionals.

But, when we see it actually happen in this world, it can be a surprise. It can be jarring. It can even make people mad.

Such was the case on Tuesday at the sentencing of Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment in September 2018. Guyger later said she entered his apartment by mistake, thinking it was hers, and mistook him for an intruder.

Guyger was convicted of murder, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In the terms of this world, that may be shallow justice for many, given the nature of the crime. This world cries for retribution. And, if anyone would have claim to a demand for retribution, it would likely be Botham Jean’s younger brother, Brandt Jean.

But, news outlets and social media went wild this week because Brandt did something that made absolutely no sense.

He forgave his brother’s killer. He said he loves her. He said he didn’t even want her to go to jail, because he wants the best for her. He asked her to give her life to Christ.

And then, in a visible sign of what it looks like when we embrace grace with the nonsensical, radical love of Christ, he hugged her.

None of that will bring back Botham Jean. None of it makes it OK that he was killed in his own apartment for being black. None of it changes the fact Guyger will have to face the consequences of this world for her actions. And, none of it washes clean the dirty history in America of slavery, Jim Crow, inequality, the mass incarceration of black men and their disproportionate targeting and death at the hands of police. And yet — without stopping to ask whether or not it was deserved — there was Brandt. There was grace.

So many are upset at Brandt’s display of love because it flies in the face of all we know about this world. It ignores our lust for retribution. It defies our fears and our hate. It sets aside our differences. It shows us, in stark, blinding light, the gulf between the way of this world, and the way this world will be when it is the Kingdom of God.

Brandt’s radical outpouring of grace in that courtroom makes no sense, because it looks like Christ. And, in this world, Christ makes no sense. The cross makes no sense. Grace makes no sense.

But, we are not called to the ways of this world. We are called as children of God to take up our cross, to follow Christ on the hard walk to Golgotha, and to pour out ourselves in love for God, for our neighbor, and yes, especially yes, for our enemy.

We don’t know what that cross will look like for each of us. But I pray, knowing I am a weak sinner, when my cross is laid on my back, I pray I will have the courage of Brandt. I pray I’ll have the courage to pour myself out in a way that, to this world, makes absolutely no sense.

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