by George Garrison
Posted: July 17, 2020
The believer's gift to a Covid-crazed world…
The story goes that a group of scholars and religious leaders were seated around a table engaged in a rather lengthy discussion concerning what exactly is Christianity’s greatest gift to society. At some point C. S. Lewis happened to be passing by and upon hearing the lively discussion and being posed the question himself by a member of the group, Lewis quickly replied, “Oh that’s easy, it’s grace.” And with that, the discussion ended.
While grace might easily be Christianity’s greatest gift to society, it certainly is not easy to dispense it in these days of COVID. We’re all tired, frustrated, and a bit over controlling (of the few things we can control). Certain things and people now rub us the wrong way—things that didn’t create any noticeable friction at all when we entered the first weeks of the pandemic. But it is in times such as these that the believer’s “secret weapon” of grace can have great impact. Let’s consider this from the outside in.
On the farthest level, as Christians we need to be gracious toward our president and our national leaders. No matter our political allegiance or feelings toward particular personalities, those in government have an incredibly difficult task trying to navigate our nation through this pandemic. With information constantly changing and a lack of
consensus from healthcare leaders regarding the best ways to manage COVID, our national leaders need our prayers much more than they need our criticism.
On the state level, as Christians we need to be gracious toward our governor and state leaders. It’s one thing to try to carve out a plan that works well for an entire state, but when you throw in the population and cultural disparities of our major city with the majority of the state, how solid can those plans be? And let’s not forget that all our state leaders can only be so proactive; at some point they are forced to be reactive, particularly in areas where people refuse to comply with the state’s restrictions.
On the local level, as Christians we need to be gracious toward those in leadership whose decisions need to be somewhat fluid. Of course everyone prefers a solid decision to a fluid one, but in areas of schooling and local civic services (and let’s not forget church leadership as well!), local leaders are having to make decisions that are never going to please everyone, sometimes needing to be changed (did I mention church leadership?!) and yet always second-guessed.
On the family and friend level, as Christians we need to be gracious toward those closest to us. Perhaps what would normally be very small things that irritate or frustrate us about those we are spending a lot of time with are now magnified during these not so normal times. We need to remember to be gracious toward those in our closest circle because that same magnification equation applies to us in their eyes as well.
Finally, on a personal level, as Christians we need to be gracious toward ourselves. Are there aspects of our own behaviors and attitudes that disappoint us in terms of how we are handling things? Were we certain a while ago that the COVID heat would bring out the gold in us when all the heat seems to have done is accentuate the dross? We need to extend grace to ourselves, especially when we have a tendency to view and evaluate ourselves outside of how God sees us through the blood of His Son.
Yes, grace is the gift Christianity has to offer the world, and that grace needs to be extended from the outside in as we have seen above. But it just might be that the outward struggles are compounded because we have not learned to be gracious inwardly. The apostle Peter’s final recorded words were the challenge to his audience to“grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” ().
May we never stop growing in our understanding and appropriation of God’s grace, especially in these COVID-crazed days of insecurity, scrutiny, and second-guessing. Especially now, for such a time as this, grace is Christianity’s greatest gift to society.
End of discussion.
Praying for all of us to extend the grace our world desperately needs,
George Garrison is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois.• E-mail the author (ten.nairetybserpleunammi@egroeg*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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