Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Micaela Hollins, writer and blogger in London, England. She tells her story about how she encountered God’s Amazing Grace when she failed to give grace to a friend.
A couple of Sunday’s ago, we sang Amazing Grace at church. I’ve always known the words to this beautiful song, but I’m used to singing it on special occasions or at Christmas. This time it was just on a normal Sunday, but for the first time it really meant something.
This time I knew the Grace I was singing about.
Jesus is Grace personified, and we are all guilty of forgetting that. We’re all guilty of setting high standards and recreating laws that Jesus came to redeem. We’re all guilty of condemning others and ourselves when these standards aren’t met.
I’m the guiltiest of them all.
I was singing this song in absolute awe of God’s goodness, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
We were close and shared a kinship that guarded many special secrets and big dreams. That was until she cut me off four years ago. In a colourful array of curse words, she effectively told me to get lost and that was it. We haven’t spoken since.
When she lost her virginity to her casual boyfriend, I spoke up. I thought that’s what friends did. She loved God and it was my duty to call her out.
Except that wasn’t what I did. What I did was condemn her.
She didn’t need me to tell her that she knew better. She already knew that she knew better, but she didn’t consider that life as ‘better’ anymore and had decided to go her own way.
Instead of staying on the inside as a friend, despite our moral differences, I isolated her so that she didn’t want my friendship anymore. I told her off the way a mother would a child.
I was perfect, you see. Meaning I was completely naive and thought it was easy to abstain from sex. I was 18 and had decided that I would wait for marriage, long before facing the fire of temptation. I still believe in waiting, but the main point is that I didn’t understand her and I didn’t try to.
I just stood up on my pedestal and rebuked her.
Somehow I’d concluded that being saved by grace made you less human. Since then I’ve learned that I was wrong. It means that we are only saved because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was grace personified.
My life didn’t exude grace because I didn’t understand grace. I was trying to be perfect and thought everyone else should be too. I would air my opinions with my head held high, because I was doing it right and that’s all that mattered. I was proud. God didn’t care what I was doing right if I was judging everyone else for doing it wrong.
Christianity isn’t a world of black and white, right and wrong.
There is a large section of grey that I hadn’t yet discovered, and my friend had.
Praise God that since losing that friend, I’ve realised that I am just as human as anyone. When I did meet this world of grey shortly after, it was similar to having the wind blown out of me with a plank of wood. I thought I was perfect and then I had to accept I wasn’t.
God picked me up and didn’t put me back down until He had truly defined the meaning of grace to me, in turn refining and softening my heart. God saved a wretch like me, who was speaking for Him before I truly knew His nature.
I needed to experience His grace before I could extend it to others.
I’m learning everyday but I’m not so blind anymore. As a friend it’s my job to communicate the truth, which is that God will both offer grace and bring conviction. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
Q: How do you balance telling the truth with offering grace to those you love?