God’s love for us is probably the most sustaining thing we can experience, but also the most challenging. The different word that we sometimes use to identify it is ‘grace’. God’s grace, unsurprisingly, is ‘out of this world’ – but it does challenge our thinking. I have been pondering this with the help of some of the thinking in Francis Spufford’s “Unapologetic” (faber & faber, 2012). Spufford points out: “Grace is forgiveness we can’t earn. Grace is the weeping father on the road. Grace is tragedy accepted with open arms, and somehow turned to good” (p. 166).
The problem comes when we think about following God’s way. Spufford reminds us: “We’re supposed as Christians to go out and love recklessly, as God does. We’re supposed to try and imitate Jesus in this, and to be prepared to follow love wherever it goes, knowing that there are no guarantees it’ll be safe, or that the world will treat such vulnerability kindly” (p. 176).
And we need to remember that God’s grace is there for everyone, even those we don’t like, and certainly those we think don’t deserve it – and that, hopefully, will help us see the good bits in everyone else. As Spufford says: “Grace makes us better readers of each other. We don’t know, each of us, what the others need forgiving for, and we never will, but we know they were forgiven, as we were … Though we are many, we say, we are one body, because we all share in one bread” (p. 203).