Embracing Grace and Justice (Matthew 18)

On the subject of grace and justice; i’ve heard something to the effect that everyone wants justice when it comes to the wrongs committed against them and grace when they commit the wrongs, said numerous times in various settings.  i think it’s a fair truism, i’ve seen it play out in my own life and motives.  That, of course doesn’t mean that it is right or how i should be living my life.  In fact, Matthew 18 calls that kind of living into direct question for me.  i love how the Word of the Lord is so powerful, how it causes me to reflect on my own motivations and current state of living and challenges those to come more in line with the Nature of Christ. 

 i, for one, am grateful that God doesn’t leave me alone to stay the same as i always have been.  i love that Jesus turns our human structure upside down, how He speaks that the greatest in the Kingdom are like children and if we have hope  it’s in being like children and humbling ourselves.  Children struggle for power at times, this depends on personality some, but mostly they seek to find their boundaries and often are much better at submitting than adults are.  They trust their parents to love them, care for them, provide for them and protect them. They aren’t ashamed to run to their parents bed or side when they are frightened.  They tend to be more uninhibited and free and less interested in seeking to fit in as that doesn’t really enter until later.  Most kids are pretty comfortable with who they are, they learn from adults and culture and environments norms, expectations, rules, etc.  This impacts them as they grow older, it alters how they think and feel about themselves and others.  If you have ever been around kids, you can clearly observe these things, you can see subtle changes as they get older and access more and varying environments.  i don’t think that there is a certain age where we lose our child-likeness, i think some people are able to hold on to it more than others, but i do believe it’s a slow and on-going process as we acclimate more to social norms and expectations that we lose being comfortable with ourselves and in knowing who we really are at the end of each day and who we can run to when things are scary.  We begin to want more and different things and experiences, we begin to find meaning in power and approval, and we lose some of the best parts of ourselves in our grasp at self-realization.  Jesus, he reminds me, that my doing “stuff” having power and seeking his or any approval isn’t going to make me the greatest in the Kingdom, but that some how i must try to find my way back to being like a kid.  Sometimes i am so far away from being a kid, i just can’t even remember what it felt like, but i’m trying to get back there.

i love that God loves his kids so much that He seeks us when we go astray, when we get lost, we wander off, He finds us.  He is constantly calling us back rather it is through a sunset, a note from a friend, the helping hand of a stranger or a word that we just can’t deny even though we want to.  That is grace!  God offers it so freely.  i love that he wants us to offer that to others, to not withhold forgiveness, but to give out as much as He has.  He wants us to help each other be accountable, to not deny sin, but to be honest with one another, to talk to our brothers when a sin has come between us, to handle that rightly and not with anger, bitterness, or resentment in our heart, because what we bind and loose down here is what is bound and loosed in heaven.  The way i choose to live my life here and now says everything about my eternity.  If i choose vengeance and not forgiveness that is what i am left with, and to me that matters.  Matthew 18 reaffirms my strong stance that we need to be connecting and living relationally with others who follow Jesus, because where two or more are gathered He is with them; i need community to help walk in Christ and to offer grace to others, i am not an island.   Honestly, Matthew 18 reminds me that God is the final say in justice and grace, and i want to err on the side of grace, i want forgiveness for my life and so even though, at times i find it difficult, i choose forgiveness for others who may wrong me and i leave justice to the Lord.  Like a child, i choose to trust in my Father to love me, care for me, provide for me, and protect me.  i believe in His justice no matter what happens in the here and now, so i will offer grace and i will offer forgiveness, because i am in His hand and i find peace there and i want the world to rest there too.  My prayer is that i can embrace grace and justice everyday through my relationship with Christ, that my heart harbors no ill feelings toward another being, but because i have been forgiven a great many transgressions, that i too may lavish grace and forgiveness.  

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