Of Rights and Grace

Again, another response to a CRC-Voices post.

I suspect the word “grace” is often misapplied when we demand the benefits of it for ourselves or those we ally with. Grace can only be asked for in an request from a position of repentance I suspect.  Grace is not itself generosity although grace can flow from generosity. We also confuse “grace” with “niceness”. Likewise we confuse “grace” with “give me a break. How much will it cost you to just give me what I want?” like a beggar asking for a dollar from someone who seems able to spare it. This isn’t grace either, it’s charity.

Too often we throw around the word “grace” in a conversation like this and we’re talking about “rights” which is really a different conversation. “Rights” demanded are done so before a judge who has the power to both render judgment and execute punishment on the guilty. A judge recognizes and acknowledges “rights”. “Grace” is an appeal to the judge after the sentence has been both declared and acknowledged by the guilty. It is an appeal for mercy. Only those who define themselves as guilty apply for grace.

What many of us who are asking for “grace” are really asking for is an appeal, that our case be re-examined and that we (and the position we hold) be declared to be right and that we be vindicated. That is a different thing.

Part of the irony of contemporary conflicts is that many groups demanding the recognition of “rights” posit no divine judge and especially no divine judgment. That would probably be a beneficial avenue to explore. A lot of the “rights” language in an imagined context without this divine judge or divine punishment really seems to be more of a rhetorical device to leverage previous general acceptance of a position and to get it extended towards that which they wish included.

If someone expands their mental purview beyond the church or the state and includes in their minds a picture of the judge of all history, a bit more humility about one’s actual “rights” might develop. We might also begin to value humility, repentance and in fact begin to see a need for grace for ourselves. pvk

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
This entry was posted in Culture commentary, Wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

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