Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Though Grace shown to the wicked...

Once I knew a girl a Muslim girl who had been horrendously taken advantage of by an American authority-figure. The situation was despicable, and I was justifiably incensed.

Later, her father came to visit from the mid-East and learned about the situation. Those who knew about it were ready to deal with the wrath of an offended Arab father; we were seething on his daughter’s behalf, after all.

With a firm resolve, he sadly thanked the offender for the good he had done in times past, expressed regret for the situation, and forbade him from seeing his daughter again. That was all.

The American in me could have been enraged about Muslim dismissals of women. The Christian in me could have been indignant about the godless dismissal of justice. After all, if there is any situation to which I could apply our ambiguous theology of “righteous anger,” it would certainly be this one.

But instead, I was humbled. A Muslim man with every right to be angry (with responsibility to be angry, actually) had just shown me up with grace and forgiveness, and I found myself trembling the next time the words “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” came out of my mouth.

“But God,” I wanted to argue, “we are supposed to be angry when the powerful take advantage of the helpless, right?” Maybe. Maybe we must become enraged since we (and the Muslims) serve a God of justice. And that is why Grace is offensive, why it is unfair and may even seem evil from our limited perspective. Grace does not just apply to me; if it really is Grace, it applies to those who hurt those I love.

I pray I rarely need to muster up the magnanimity of grace my friend’s father demonstrated. But if the need arises, I pray I can find it.

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