Radical GraceAug 28, 2022
Three days after the affair came out, Trisha’s brother came to stay with her. Trish and I were already separated, and weren’t talking to each other. Our marriage was on life-support. I had no way of knowing that her brother was in town…until he showed up at the house in which I was staying.
When my brother-in-law came in the house, I started to apologize. I wanted him to know how sorry I was. I wanted him to know how I wished I could take it back. I wanted him to know how regretful I was that I had betrayed Trisha…betrayed him. He didn’t say a word; he just came and gave me a hug. He wrapped his arms around my neck and cried with me. After a few minutes, he just said “I love you”.
Radical grace. What I realized in that moment is that my betrayed brother-in-law had demonstrated a more Christ-like love and grace to me than I had ever extended to him. He is gay. I was a pastor. We had a relationship, but it wasn’t based on grace.
When you’re desperate for grace and you’ve messed your life up beyond your ability to fix it, the “Christian” rules you’ve lived by no longer make sense. I loved my brother-in-law, but in my heart I judged him. I cared deeply for my brother in law, but in my mind I knew I was better than him. I spent a lot of time with my brother-in-law, but in my economy, God was getting a better deal with me.
When you think you don’t need radical grace, it is so much easier to withhold it from others. It is easy to judge the drunk on the corner, the single mom on your kid’s field trip, the abusive husband, the lady on food stamps buying cigarettes at the grocery store, the porn addict. It is easy to think that we are so much better, so much more deserving, so much more entitled to God’s love.
What I realized and continue to realize is I am those people. I am the drunk, the porn addict, the prostitute, the abusive husband, the crack addict, and the lady who’s had an abortion. I am them…maybe not with my lifestyle, but definitely in my heart…and I need grace.
Do I agree with my brother-in-laws lifestyle? No. That is the scandalous and audacious thing about grace: it is unmerited favor. It is unconditional love. It is unending and undeserved mercy. It has nothing to do with agreeing with a lifestyle or dispensing what someone deserves, or proving my point or being right. Grace flies in the face of all of that.
What kind of grace does it take to hug your sister’s husband three days after he’s admitted to an affair? What kind of grace does it take to say I love you to someone who’s betrayed you so deeply? Radical grace. My brother-in-law gave me something that day that I didn’t deserve and could never repay…and he extended more to me than I had ever been willing to extend to him. Radical grace…and I am forever grateful.