“Dead Come to Life” by Jonathan Thulin

Video


A perfectly fitting song for this blog, but the video for the song is a beautifully told parable. I dare you NOT to spend 10 minutes watching this extended video.

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Dear Super-Angry Zimmerman Trial Watchers (From Either Side)


Dear People Who Are Really Angry About the Verdict of the Zimmerman Trial (or People Who Are Angry at All the People Who Are Angry About the Verdict of the ZImmerman Trial),

I guess you could call this an open letter, although this missive is probably going to be shorter than the salutation above. I watch with a certain morbid fascination the vitriol that spills from both sides of this case (both the supporters of Zimmerman and those who wanted him to hang). I am constantly amazed at the hate-filled invective of people who have no material connection to this case or the families involved.952313_79933908

All right, before I get to the “meat” of this post, let me get a few things off my chest that really don’t aim at the heart of this entry:

1. Unless you are a criminal lawyer, or are educated as an expert in tort law, you are NOT an expert and are not qualified to make judgments on the fine details of the case.

2. Unless you were an eyewitness to the alleged crime, you really have no idea what ACTUALLY happened that night. If you had such information, you would have been called as a witness.

Okay.

We’ve got those two things out of the way.

I’m speaking to people who are angry that Zimmerman was acquitted. You know how much anger, perhaps even hatred, you feel towards George Zimmerman, the defense team, maybe even the jury? As much as this might pain you, if you are a believer in Christ, it’s about 48 hours past time to let it go. This probably will also chap your hind-quarters a little bit: those people towards whom your angst is directed? They deserve God’s grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness just as much as you don’t. God offers it freely to all of us, in spite of our inability to deserve it.

Or, if you want to think about it another way: God views you as an equal with George Zimmerman, the defense attorneys, the jury, etc, in terms of your inherent goodness (or depravity, whichever way you want to look at it).

That’s right. God loves you just as much as those people you are cursing at on your 24-hour news channel of choice.

Okay, now I’m speaking to people who are angry that people are angry about the acquittal. You know how much anger, perhaps even hatred, you feel towards all those who are crying foul that the US judicial system is racially biased? As much as this might pain you, if you are a believer in Christ, it’s about 48 hours past time to let it go. This probably will also chap your hind-quarters a little bit: those people towards whom your angst is directed? All those people who are protesting and crying foul? They deserve God’s grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness just as much as you DON’T. God offers it freely to all of us, in spite of our inability to deserve it.

Or, if you want to think about it another way: God views you as an equal with all of those who are screaming for blood over the acquittal in terms of your inherent goodness (or depravity, whichever way you want to look at it).

For those of you who don’t care and wish everyone would just stop yapping about it? Well…

…God loves you too.

The Terrifying Aesthetic of Grace


The concept of “grace” is something—in all my academic splendor—I can’t really wrap my head around. It certainly is not something I come by naturally. I rarely find myself tending towards treating others with grace as a matter of habit or instinct.

Perhaps I was born without a “grace gene,” which would explain my inability to fully comprehend it. I don’t know. Or maybe everyone else in the world finds it as perplexing as I do.

I’ve heard it explained many times, and frequently, those explanations satisfy the turmoil in my brain when it comes to understanding grace. My favorite definition is that, while “mercy” is being saved from a punishment we do deserve, “grace” is receiving something (good) that we don’t deserve.

Grace has a certain appeal on a conscious, intellectual level. I mean, who doesn’t want to receive a gift that they never earned? Heck, I love that kind of stuff. When friends offer to pay for a meal for no particular reason other than “because they want to,” I eat that stuff up (pun intended).

But when we allow grace to sink down into the fertile soil of the soul, there is a mortifying flip-side to grace. Deep within ourselves, we suspect that we are deserving of some form of punishment for all the bad that we do. We can’t help ourselves (literally). The road we’ve traveled to get where we are today is marred by horrifying lapses in judgment, missteps of the grandest kind, and repetitive sins that defy any rational explanation. As Paul said in Romans 7:24a: “What a wretched man I am!”

But amazing grace saved a wretch like me. And while this makes for a “sweet sounding” verse, it is shocking and a bit terror-inducing.

Why, you might ask?

Because grace of that magnitude requires a response. Grace forces a crossroads point in life multiple times over.

First, in recognizing the grace of Jesus Christ, we are forced with a decision to accept it or reject it. Fortunately, this is not a “one and done” type of decision, and those who have chosen to reject the grace of Jesus can, at any time before death, change and choose to accept it. Of course, the unpredictability of life makes that a bit of a gamble, one whose consequences stretch over the never-ending continuum of Eternity.

Second, upon accepting the gracious, free gift of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, we are faced with a powerful call to action. Over and over in the Bible, after people’s lives were radically changed when their paths intersected with Jesus Christ, we find them subsequently running through the streets to proclaim their encounter with the Son of God. When our lives collide with incomparable beauty of grace, our reaction should be similar.

But that’s scary, isn’t it?

The grace of God is one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful spiritual truths in the Universe. God’s love for us prompted Him to extend grace to billions of people who could not possibly do anything to deserve it, all through the undeserved suffering of His own Son.

But the flip-side of the beauty is the terrifying aesthetic of grace—a horrifying and weighty responsibility that comes with that grace.

We now carry that grace within us, and we are responsible for sharing it and extending it to others, neither of which is easy.

But it is truth, and truth is rarely easy to swallow.

So, I stand before you (digitally speaking) and share with you, throughout the course of this journal, my story. It is my responsibility to share. I am motivated to share. I am held accountable to share. And parts of my story are ugly, shameful, and downright disgusting.

Scary?

Yes.

Necessary?

Of course.

It’s the terrifying aesthetic of a life that has accepted the gift of grace.