Michael Hidalgo


GRACEsq-privateI indulged my guilty pleasure of perusing Facebook and was outraged and surprised by the many hateful and discriminating responses I saw in the wake of the Paris Attacks. Predictably enough the responses are cloaked as smart or reasonable. But the cloak is not thick enough to hide the fear beneath it. Hate is hate – whether from terrorists or from Christians.

But there are other responses; beautiful, simple and true. Responses that  bring us to tears. Those refusing to return hate toward the attackers. Those forgiving the terrorists for killing their loved ones. Those receiving refugees with open arms. Some believe these responses have thrown off the cloak of being smart or reasonable. To some, these responses look damned foolish.

And that’s how grace often looks, isn’t it?

Grace is not afraid to appear naïve or stupid because it doesn’t try to impress anyone or prove anything. Maybe this is why grace makes us feel awkward and clunky – because it just won’t play by our rules. It won’t participate in the arrangement of vengeance our world has agreed upon.

The idea of grace is as foreign to us as a primitive language long forgotten. And yet, it stirs something in the hearts of those who have exhausted themselves with anger, bitterness and rage. Somehow, it moves in such a way that it keeps us circling around, craning our necks, if only to take one last look, wondering if anything like grace could be real.

Maybe this is why grace moves us to tears when it makes an appearance. Our tears are brought on by the sadness of the whole thing. We watch in shock as grace absorbs the beatings, the hatred, the killings, the vitriol, the blood spilled and the evil we do to one another – and never once retaliates.

Never. Ever.

As Robert Capon wrote: grace “just dies for our life.”

It may seem to be total rubbish. It may seem like it could never work. It may seem too good to be true, but grace doesn’t need us to believe in it for it to be true. It’s always has been and always will be true whether we ever want to see it. Grace goes on dancing even when we silence the music.

That’s the story – the dim-witted story – Christians have told and retold for thousands of years. Yet, while Christians claim to be “saved by grace” we live as though we don’t believe it exists any more than we believe Santa Claus exists. Sure, it makes for a good story now and then, but anyone who gives it a moment’s consideration wouldn’t really believe such nonsense, right?

We claim grace directly from the hand of God for ourselves, yet our hands are clenched into fists refusing to give anything like it to others – especially those who are “the other.” We inch our way around our hate, whispering words of assurance that the impossibly high ideals of Jesus wouldn’t work in the real world. We tell ourselves we need to be safe and secure; to think otherwise is stupid.

All the while, we fail to see that grace, in her sheer stupidity, is smarter and more reasonable than anything we can muster on our most brilliant day. Grace stands alone; beautiful, simple and true.

Humanity has long proven hate only creates more hate and violence produces more violence. My hope and prayer for me and all of us is that we would learn the “unforced rhythms of grace” – that we would have the courage to live as fools. That we would have eyes to see we are citizens of another Kingdom that doesn’t live according to the agreed upon arrangement of vengeance. That we would become those who, in our grace-filled responses to evil, induce outrage and surprise.

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