We can be agents of radical grace
Regular contributor James Knight believes we should bring a message of radical grace in these uncertain times.
A lot went through my mind during the recent tragedies that made the headlines – the mass shooting in Orlando and the killing of MP Jo Cox in Yorkshire. As might be expected, much was written about the two men that committed the atrocities. And the pain inflicted by these devastating events has continued to dominate the news.
While I shared in the sadness and sorrow that came about after hearing both bits of tragic news, I also thought about what combination of factors had turned Thomas Mair into a killer. I thought too about the man who murdered all those people in the Orlando nightclub. What toxic combination of religious ideology and personal prejudice could make someone so unhinged that they could kill 50 innocent people, and totally devastate the lives of their families and friends?
It’s natural for us to go through the whole gamut of emotions in the wake of mindless murder: shock, anger, sadness, confusion, and I dare say judgment too. While victims rightly receive outpourings of sympathy and love, those who commit the atrocities are often publically vilified, ostracised, and even dehumanised, with the risk of us writing the worst offenders off as unforgiveable monsters who should rot in jail for the rest of their lives.
It’s true that some prisoners are so dangerous that they should never be released, and justice rightly needs to be administered before the law. But for the Christian, it’s never the case that the worst offenders are ‘unforgiveable monsters’ – quite the opposite really.
Central to the Christian faith is the truth that we are all equal in being sinners, and that we are all equal in being offered forgiveness by God’s grace. While we might sometimes find this difficult to accept, it really is the case. As Philip Yancey once said, “grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more… and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less”.
It’s on that basis that we can be agents of grace for others in the swirl of darkness and chaos that sometimes threatens to engulf us. And, at a time of heightened uncertainty following the result of the EU referendum, we of all people can be bearers of the message of radical grace in these momentous days in which we live.
This article first appeared in The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity journal, and is reproduced with permission.
James Knight is a local government officer based in Norwich, and is a regular columnist for Christian community websites Network Norfolk and Network Ipswich. He also blogs regularly as ‘The Philosophical Muser’, and contributes articles to UK think tanks The Adam Smith Institute and The Institute of Economic Affairs.
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