All of us need grace. I believe that with all of my heart. Grace is my daily prayer—that I receive it, that I embrace it, that I show it toward others. Every day, often many times a day, I ask God for grace. My heart wants to know grace, my soul longs to engage the world with grace. Which is why I wake up each day asking God to show me grace and to help me to know grace.
However, in my search to know and embrace grace, I’m also bewildered by how so many Christians name drop “grace.” I’ve seen “grace” show up a lot on this blog in the last few years, often when I’ve written about Mark Driscoll or told stories of people who have been deeply affected by Mark Driscoll’s ministry at Mars Hill.
Yesterday, one individual wrote, “This is between God and Mark. #grace.” The subtext of his tweet was that to show grace was to shut up. And perhaps for Mark our silence would feel like grace. But what about all of the people, the hundred of Mars Hill members who have suffered various forms of spiritual abuse under his care, is our silence grace for them too? Should we leave their stories between them, God, and Mark?
On Sunday, in a conversation online about Mars Hill, one guy said, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone…” His misuse of that story and its context aside, the subtext of his statement was that, unless you’re perfect, you have no right to say anything. That rather than speaking up against the perpetrator or speaking up for the victim, grace means you shut up, do nothing, and judge others with #grace.
Again, I need grace. I am far from perfect. But for the grace of God and the grace of my family, friends, and church go I. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility to stand up for people who have been hurt, abused, or silenced.
Grace is not a hashtag.
Grace is not “giving the benefit of the doubt.”
Grace is not passive or passive aggressive.
Grace does not harbor abusers.
Grace is not something to be demanded just because the conversation makes you uncomfortable.
Grace is not an excuse to remain silent.
Yes, grace is an idea filled with uncertainty. It’s a balancing act. It’s nonsensical. It’s otherworldly.
But grace is also present. Grace is intentional. Grace is active.
Grace is not a middle man negotiating a deal between bullshit and pain.
Sometimes grace calls out bullshit. Sometimes grace brings hope to those in pain.
But I cannot believe that grace would ever stand in the middle and remain silent.