Right now, our nation feels so fractured. Just turn on the news for about four seconds. Any channel.
Right now, our families and neighbors seem so separated. When’s the last time you saw your parents or went to a birthday party?
Right now, our churches are more scattered than gathered. There are people who used to sit by you who don’t anymore. Your church is smaller than it used to be. And your pastor doesn’t know what to do.
Right now, the whole world is focused on the distance and the differences between us. Just check out your Facebook.
Right now, it seems that if you don’t live where I live, look like I look, think like I think, vote like I vote, or worship like I worship; if we are of different ages, different races, or different nationalities; we can’t be together. If we don’t have these things in common, we must not have anything in common. We can’t.
This is decidedly not what Christians believe. We believe that by the grace of God we are all connected to one another. But it’s only by grace. It’s nothing we can accomplish on our own.
We live in a broken world. We are a fallen people living in a fallen world in which the systems and structures and supports and the people who operate them are broken. We cannot fix what’s wrong with us, what’s wrong with other people, or what’s wrong with the world. We can’t fix it because we are the problem. The solution can’t come from within us or our systems because we and our systems are busted.
We go to family counseling but, once the sessions are over, the family system pushes us back into the old habits. Black Americans suffer injustice and we all protest together but, give it time, and our society goes right back to where it was. We go to the polls for every election and vote for change every time, but we stay stuck in the status quo. It’s the old line: If voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal.
A fallen humanity in a fallen world offers no hope to anybody. We put our hope in our science and technology, but all the great advances have caused more problems than they’ve solved. We put our hope in our money, our kids, and our careers, and we wind up disappointed and empty. Every time.
We all need the grace of God that comes to us from outside our broken systems. We need a salvation from outside our fallen selves. And the Good News of amazing grace and everlasting truth is that God so loved the world that he came here to us. He came from above us and beyond us to save us. He redeems us by his blood, he restores us by his love, and he connects us together in himself.
Right now is the time to remember all the things we have in common and, by God’s grace, to live into them together.
Right now is the season to consider the countless ways we are attached and, by God’s grace, to work towards expressing and experiencing them together.
Right now is the occasion to acknowledge and prioritize the many ways we are connected to each other and to every man, woman, and child on this planet by the incredible gift of our faithful God’s amazing grace.
You have written about these matters many times and in many ways. I am always confused. Let me try to address it by details in your final paragraph: “Right now is the occasion to acknowledge and prioritize the many ways we are connected to each other and to every man, woman, and child on this planet by the incredible gift of our faithful God’s amazing grace.”
I have no issue with the first two thirds of that sentence. I believe we are all the same. There are no differences that matters between any humans. I am not a member of ANY group of which you are not also a member. No one is required to change in any way to become more like me for we are already one.
But then comes the last phrase. What I hear in that last phrase is that we need to be a member of a select group that recognizes God’s grace. What I hear is you promoting membership in a group comprised of less than us all. There is a disconnect here. I cannot be, as I have claimed to be, a member of no group, yet see myself as special.
I am probably missing something, or I am probably unclear in the question. What I am trying to say is that when I was a member of “The Church” I was putting myself into a special select group. When I was an atheist, I was putting myself in a special select group. I am not special. I am not select. I refuse to be in any group. What I am questioning is how we can reconcile advocating for group membership while at the same time advocating the connectedness of all. There are either walls are there are no walls. I want to be 100% in your group as long as your group contains 100% of all. If, as it seems, you are asking me to be a member of a group which is different from other groups I find no way to get enthusiastic about that.
We are connected by our common need for grace, the need for a solution to what’s broken from outside us. We’re all in that club together. And the fact that this grace from God is offered to all of us and that we all experience that grace every minute of every day also connects us. No application forms or membership pledges required.
It still seems like you are asking the reader to make some change. Apparently that has little to do with grace since we all experience grace at every moment. It seems to be more something you want us to acknowledge. Possibly we need to acknowledge that we and/or the world is broken. For context, I do not believe anyone or anything is broken. I and it are just like God intended us to be. How could we be broken?
Or maybe we are supposed to acknowledge God’s grace. If so, how and why?
Yes, I believe God’s grace should be acknowledged for what it is. But whether it is acknowledged or not, or who does or doesn’t do the acknowledging, doesn’t have anything to do with whether it happens or not. It rains on the just and the unjust. God gives you every breath you take just like he does me. That alone connects us in a deep, significant way.