The other day I was reading about a group of prominent Christian pastors and leaders who recently issued a statement of beliefs about various culturally divisive topics.
In an interview about the statement, one of the signatories declared that he thought it would be difficult to be a Christian and not believe what the statement affirmed.
I saw some of the online responses by Christians who were angered with the interviewee's statement. The responses, which were swift and condemning, called into question both his Christian faith and the faith of the signatories to the statement of beliefs.
We've all probably had moments when we've listened to someone calling themselves a Christian who says or does something that so offends us we want to run screaming from the room.
But how we respond in those moments says a great deal about how we truly feel about God's grace.
In his book What's So Amazing About Grace? author Philip Yancey acknowledges his own weakness in this regard, but also points out that each one of us who follows Jesus is called to "dispense" grace wherever we go.
When we dispense grace instead of judgement we "enrich the atmosphere," according to Yancey. And when we are all breathing in this enriched atmosphere of grace, we have a tendency to be able to hold our disagreements with others in tension with Jesus' command to love them.
Dorothy Day once said, "I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least." If we are going to claim that we follow Jesus, who embodied Love, then we need to demonstrate that love by dispensing grace---even to those who offend us, wound us or dismiss us.
May you practice dispensing grace in the atmosphere around you today and every day. May you realize that you are an unworthy recipient of grace both from God and from others who are dispensing grace to you.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.