Beyond Justice

Forgiveness has its own extraordinary power which reaches beyond law and beyond justice.

Justice has a good and righteous and rational kind of power. The power of grace is different: unworldly, transforming, supernatural.

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excerpt from Philip Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Chapter Why Forgive?

Limitless

Does grace ever has a limit? Is anybody ever beyond forgiveness …or acceptance? Is God the only one capable of showing grace …and not we humans? If I, being a Christian have to extend grace, to whom should I extend it, to good people? the talented? the kindhearted?  …those who “deserve?”

Can I show grace to murderers, liars, arrogant people, traitors, gossip, those who attack me? …to those who don’t “deserve?”

Innocent Attack

How can I resist the power of grace?

While dad was polishing his new car, his 5-year-old son picked up a stone and scratched lines on the side of the car. In his fits of anger, dad took the child’s hand and hit it many times. He didn’t realize that he hit the child’s hand with a wrench. At the hospital, his child said, “Dad, when will my fingers grow back?” Dad was so hurt, he went back to the car and hit the car many times. Sitting back, he looked at the scratches the child made . . .

. . . It reads, “I ♡ u daddy!”

Years ago, I received this story as a text message from a friend. The story was so strong that it captured my imagination and instantly melted my heart—making me feel guilty about how often I find myself in parallel situations . . . playing as the careless father of an innocent child.

I have three sons. Whenever my temper collides with my sons’ innocence, I always lose. Like the father in the story, my sons’ naivety can powerfully bring me to my knees, helpless, ashamed . . . unable to reason out . . . unable to defend.

“Dad when will my fingers grow back?” the child simply asks, instead of blaming his dad, and accusing him for his temper. The child’s action depicts a strong innocent way of overcoming evil with good.

How can I defend myself with such innocent attack?

If someone attempted to punch or kick me, I would be quick to defend by using my arms or feet. I may even counterattack with another kick or punch. Likewise, if a person insulted me, I may quickly defend myself by arguing with bulletproof logic and then retaliate with more insulting comments.

But how can I defend myself from an innocent child, asking how will he recover from the damage I’ve done to him—accepting the pain and suffering without hate or plan of revenge in his heart . . . showing me love in response to my aggression?

How can I defend myself from the attacks of grace?

With this simple story, I see a snapshot of what Jesus meant when He said to Peter that even “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Grace, no matter, how sweet and gentle, pierces our heart like a deadly arrow . . . reaching the innermost part, penetrating our deepest soul. Indeed, grace is even more powerful than violence. The innocent-like attack of grace can bring a strong man down to his knees, helpless and broken.

Because we are so used to living an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” standard of dealing with justice, it becomes easier for us to resist aggression, hatred and revenge than to face and accept grace squarely without being broke and ashamed… without having a contrite heart.

Again, how can I resist the gentle invisible power of grace?

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The photo is from Musings, another WordPress blog.

A Friend

While cleaning my closet one afternoon, I came across a very old file: a copy of a poster I bought when I was in third year high school. It says:

What is a friend? I will tell you. It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself.  Your soul can be naked with him. He seems to ask of you to put on nothing, only to be what you are.  He does not want you to be better or worse.

When you are with him you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard.  You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you. He understands those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you.

With him you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities and, in opening them up to him, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty. He understands.

You do not have to be careful. You can abuse him, neglect him, tolerate him. Best of all, you can keep still with him. It makes no matter.  He likes you — he is like a fire that purges to the bone.  He understands, he understands.  You can weep with him, sing with him, laugh with him, pray with him.  Through it all and underneath, he sees, knows, and loves you.

A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.

C. Raymond Beran

So far, this is the most daring definition of a friend that I have ever read. Yet, as I reflect, I recognize that in Jesus, we find that kind of friend . . . the kind of friend who makes us “feel like a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent.”

Truly, our soul can be naked with Him. Sometimes he is “like a fire that purges to the bone.” Yet, he completely understands! What a friend we have in Jesus . . .

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Since then, I always prayed that I would be that kind of friend. I want to be like Jesus—someone who knows all about you and loves you just the same.

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The photo is through the courtesy of Heart and soul Reflections.