Give ‘em Grace!
By Pastor Aaron Adame
Everyone you encounter right now is struggling in some way or another with how to personally respond to the Coronavirus. No one is an exception. My four and six-year-old daughters are unable to go to school, play with their friends like they are used to, go to parks, movie theatres and eat in restaurants—they can’t even see their grandparents. Teachers are trying to find the best way to equally teach their students remotely. Employers are figuring out how to adjust to employees working from home, along with a volatile market. Church leaders and pastors are scratching their heads as to how to minister effectively while in quarantine. Oh yeah—and everyone is doing this in a ridiculously short period of time. Everyone is making decisions from the gut, as very few, if any, have experience to pull from. Not only that, but reactions tend to be polarizing. In short, everyone is affected and we are all reacting.
The other day, I went to the driving range to let out some steam—with a driver in hand and as many golf balls as my body could handle. While I was there, two men were swinging next to me—one in front and one behind. The one in front was criticizing government responses, believing that everyone is overreacting. The one behind had a different opinion and shared as much. I was literally caught in the middle of what could have been a bad situation. I chirped up! I won’t repeat what I said for the sake of time, but what came to mind was Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I knew the best thing was to decrease the tension, not necessarily contribute to the issue—though I was also literally in the middle of that as well.
In light of this, I want to encourage you to have a gut reaction of grace toward people! People are scared. People are losing a lot. People’s lives are changing drastically and rapidly. Understand that people are reacting to these sudden and scary changes, oftentimes with large amounts of fear or frustration. What they don’t need is another opinion—trust me, they’ve already gotten enough! What we need is grace and we need to give it, too. We’re all struggling to figure out what to do and how to do it. Dogmatic opinions are proving unhelpful and even hurtful. So instead, give ‘em grace and ask for it, too!
Brothers and sisters, as recipients of grace, we of all people should know how to give grace. God loved us when we were unlovable. God showed His love when He came to be with us. Jesus showed grace to His disciples when they were acting like knuckleheads. Jesus showed grace to His accusers and those who nailed Him to the cross when He prayed aloud, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 ESV). And God continues to show us grace every day through His provision and the abiding presence of His Spirit.
We are in a time of crisis; there is no doubt of this. Peter wrote his first letter to the churches who were in crisis. They were reacting and reactions varied. And Peter addresses those reactions throughout the letter, primarily calling them to submit—submit to spouses, to church leaders, to government, and ultimately to one another. But then he adds this: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV).
When we choose love and grace over the alternatives, it is much easier to ride out this storm. And most importantly, bring glory to God in the midst of COVID-19!
With all the love,
Pastor Aaron Adame