Sep 282017 5 Responses

We’ve Never Needed Grace More

Grace. Grace. Grace.

As Facebook has raged over the past week over the latest scandal, the repetition of these three words has been on my mind. Humanity has long stood in need of grace, but we might need it more today than ever.

I was scrolling through Facebook last week when I saw someone repost a photoshopped picture. It was funny. The picture was mocking the perceived insincerity of a political figure. I was surprised at who posted the picture since I know this person supports the politician the picture was mocking. Then I read the comments and realized the person didn’t recognize the picture as satire. They assumed it was real. To them, the picture confirmed what they believed about the politician even though the actual intent of the photo was the exact opposite. (See: Why We Don’t Like Grace)

My first thought was, “How could they not recognize that photo was fake?”

My second thought was, “How difficult is it for any of us to figure out what is true and what isn’t?”

There was a time when a picture was worth a thousand words. Now it’s worth a thousand seconds, because every picture must be verified. Sometimes it can take 15 minutes to figure out if a picture was photo-shopped, edited, or taken totally out of context. What used to be concrete proof of an event is now no more reliable than any other form of information.

Our kids know to doubt everything; our parents may not. The rest of us are never sure. When a picture of then President Obama appeared online of him holding his left hand over his right chest, young people thought, “Ha, someone flipped the photo.” Many from an older generation thought, “Wow, he’s a traitor.” When a photo of a Christ-like figure appearing in the clouds circulated on Facebook, an older generation said, “How can you look at this and not believe?” A younger generation said, “How can you look at this and not believe in Photoshop?” In a former day, a photo was proof something happened. In today’s world, a photo is proof of nothing. Images can be manipulated just as easily as lies can be created.

In this day where everyone has access to a megaphone and many people intentionally disseminate false information for ill-gotten gain, it’s hard to figure out what is true and what isn’t. This means even with the best of intentions, we will struggle to know what is real, fail to believe some things we should, fall for the deceptions of others, and simply not act as we should offline or on. (See: Old Gas Stations, Dry Squeegees, and the Grace of God)

We all need grace. And we may need it more today than ever before.

When we value grace, we will:

Be quick to listen. Because we know we are easily deceived, we will listen to others as we desire to hear their thoughts. We will recognize our experience is limited and our backgrounds create bias, so we will seek the opinions and stories of others. Showing respect and humility, we will listen before responding and judging.

Assume the best. Recognizing the common humanity of others, we will assume the best option until proven wrong. If an action seems absurd, instead of labeling the actor as absurd, we will assume we have misunderstood or lack part of the story. Rather than labeling others as evil, we will consider other explanations for why they believe what they believe. (Notice: our primary tendency is to always assume the worst in others online. You’re currently doing it to someone.)

Give others a wide strike-zone. Even when we have properly understood what someone is doing, we will give them a wide strike-zone. Compare an umpire in the Major Leagues to one in Little League. In the Majors, a pitcher is expected to be nearly perfect. The zone is small and they have to hit it. In Little League, the pitcher just needs to be close. Their skills are not developed and they just need to it get it near the zone. When we honor grace, we are more Little League than Major League when it comes to judging others. We have to make judgment calls. It’s part of life. But we will have a wide strike-zone.

Dislike actions without judging hearts. Even when we deem actions as wrong, we will still have compassion for others. I can disagree with what you do while still liking who you are. I can even dislike who you are while treating you in a respectful way. Sadly, we often judge hearts faster than actions. We simply deem people as evil rather than calling them wrong or different. When we value grace we separate actions from hearts.

Calm more than we incite. One of the favorite lines of a person who values grace is “that’s not for me.” Seeing something they don’t like or they disagree with, instead of inciting an uproar by disagreeing, they will simply ignore and move on. Anyone can dogpile insults or critiques, but it takes a great deal of maturity to ignore what the crowd is doing and simply move on. If we appreciate grace we will often just move on.

These are unique times. Humanity isn’t any worse than it’s ever been, but the megaphone nature of social media makes us more aware of circumstances, more deceived by falsehood, and more confused in trying to understand the proper context of situations. This day of “more” should also make us much more grateful and much more liberal in our giving of grace.

 

For more, check out the latest episode of the Be Human Podcast.

5 Responses to We’ve Never Needed Grace More
  1. Deb Shelly Reply

    Amen Kevin! This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rhonda baxter Reply

    I love this! Social media has definitely changed the way we communicate. I miss conversations with inflections and interactions.

  3. Randy Keen Reply

    Grace has become a close friend of mine in the last few years. I didnt think it could given to me. I knew God would extend his grace to others but not for me because he expected more from me therefore i shouldnt need grace. Once I embraced grace for myself, I realized how much easier it was to extend grace to others. Though I try to give grace as much as I can, I struggle in some of the area’s you described. Thanks for the reminder of where I need to improve.

  4. Patricia Parker Reply

    One of the best, most thought provoking articles I’ve ever read. Well stated, Kevin.

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