Grace on a Plate

Grace isn’t shocking enough to make the headlines. The words that give life and breath to the panting and exhausted don’t usually get said loudly enough for the world to hear. They’re whispered, or mouthed, and seen only by several eyes. But that doesn’t make them less important or powerful.

Micha Boyett wrote wise words here after a public, unloving book critique and a soft, gracious answer to that–actually, an invitation for a meal. The result of this grace was a gentle apology, and a great illustration of how powerful mercy is.  I found these words beautiful and convicting because when I hear criticism about my book, I am carnal enough that I drafted  a scathing, frigid letter sooner than send a dinner invitation.

After Jesus’s disciples absconded, and started living as though they’d never been with Him, He pursued them, gave them a miracle at work, and cooked breakfast for them. I wish I could have been there. His grace to them that morning had to have changed them profoundly–which is what grace and mercy does in its quiet way, without headlines and hoopla.

Micah is writing about words and relationships across the internet, which is an important part of communication. But I want grace to be even more important to me in the real-time, real-life words and actions that I engage in every day, in as normal things as breakfast or dinner.

I find the Internet to be the hardest place to follow the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed is she who has the most blog hits? Blessed is he who stands by his theological stance with the most vigor and resentment?

On the Internet, we can talk a good game about Jesus. We don’t have to know each other. We don’t have to love each other from afar. Instead we can pick on each other’s wounds and brokenness and separate ourselves into more and more theological camps. Who needs denominations? We can just align ourselves with the blogger who reads the Bible the way we do and criticizes the ones we like to criticize.

We can be a generation of sarcasm, biting, and cutting. We can roll our eyes and slam the laptop shut. Then open it up again to see if all our friends on Twitter agree.

Or, we can learn earnestness from the example of Voskamp’s genuine kindness. We are also invited to hold the gospel out. We are invited to prepare a table and set a place for the one who criticizes our lives, our beliefs, our art. We are invited to live out the blessing of Jesus:

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

The world does not need angry theology: it needs a true, good story. It needs the good news that God’s compassion is deep enough to rescue, to remake, to restore our broken lives.

After all, we are followers of a Messiah who said in his kingdom our job is not to win the argument: it’s to make the peace, to see God, to show mercy.

Comments on “The Jesus I Never Knew”

I’ve been reading Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew and have only several pages left to read. Like always at the end of a good book, I’m sorry to see the end coming.  Yancey’s calm, thorough, careful writing soothed and fed me when I felt restless and hungry for rich words and truth.

He writes about Jesus’ world, what it must have been like to breathe that air, to walk those roads. In many ways, I’m not sure that it was so different from today’s gritty, tentative, restless towns. More than ever to me, Jesus is the hero to follow, the leader to believe in. And the audacity hits me sometimes, that I say I try to live like He did, because of my colossal failures in loving and serving like He did/does.

The best parts of the book are the last two chapters: “Kingdom: Wheat Among Weeds” and “The Difference He Makes.” The words and ideas are full of triumph and purpose, not heady and empty ideas, but solid and real–truer than our present physical surroundings.

I recommend this book, not just because of the easy-to-digest writing style, but because of the content that can lead to the source of Life.

And as an aside: Someone wrote me recently to ask why I’m reading Yancey, because she heard that he left the faith. I sighed, not because of the question, but because of the rumor. Someone has not been doing their homework, and jumped on a victim and spread a lie without reading to the end of the story.  So Yancey did leave the faith in his youth, but the fruit of his life now shows his allegiance to Christ. Who hasn’t done stupid things when they were young?

Please do yourself a favor and when you hear negative things about an author, don’t write him/her off as poison. Ask good questions of people you trust, don’t believe everything you hear or read on the internet, read books with discernment. ALL books are going to be flawed because their authors are flawed. But we can be students and ask good questions and learn the good that people have to teach us and at the same time be honest about the things that aren’t truth.

(The aside turns into a rant so the speaker steps off her soapbox.)