Messy Grace

Messy grace. There it is friends.

It's the gunk you don't want to look at. It's the split ends, ashes in your air, clothes burned and hanging, dirt and tears leaving trails on your face, hot mess kind of grace. Not the pretty, white-robed, blue-eyed Jesus hanging on the church wall kind of grace, but the broken, deserted, redeemed kind of grace. And it grips us; every single one of us. If it makes us uncomfortable it's because we're afraid of being dirty. If it wounds us it's because we haven't allowed the great mercy of Jesus to dig into the hard ground of our hearts. If it looks like something other than the message of Jesus, we've been reading the wrong Bible. Because messy is the point of grace.

Just ask the woman who was caught having an affair and was thrown, naked, at the feet of Jesus. Exposed and humiliated in front of a crowd of her peers - her neighbors - all holding stones ready to slowly kill her. She was MESSY. She was a big hot mess.

Grace. Grace that comes in the throes of our sickest moments. Grace that covers us like a blanket and shields us from their hypocritical eyes. Grace that kneels down and, unashamed, presses its knees and hands into the dirt. Grace that looks us straight in our shame filled eyes. Grace that doesn't even confront our sin, just gives us a way out of it. Grace that gives us the right to live again. Grace that places the shame on the self-righteous, not on the broken. Grace that paves a new way.

If we're afraid to get messy, to offer grace no matter what it costs us, we're missing out. There's nothing we could ever do to derail the grace of God. We can't get in his way. We'll never be big enough. Maybe we need to remember that we're the ones who need grace. Maybe we need to remember that we once were (and maybe are) the ones in the dirt. Maybe we need to remember that messy grace carved a new way for us too. Maybe we need to get small and remember that God's grace is for everyone. Everyone.

Let's let everyone else live their lives. Let's let them get messy without picking up the nearest rock. Let's throw a blanket over them and gently lead them to Jesus. Forget the self-righteous adrenaline rush of dragging someone through the streets, naked and ashamed. Gross. If we want grace for our own messes, let's offer grace for one another's messes.

Shame only breeds more darkness. Shame never draws us into the light. Grace does that. So, armor up, friends. It's going to take some intentional living to choose messy grace over shame. It's going to require a lot from us to live for the light.

When the temptation to destroy rises up in you (because it will), get still, get quiet, remember your own moment in the dirt. Breathe.

Choose grace. Even if it's messy. Even if it requires your own knees and hands to sink into the dirt again.

*February 2013