By Justin Davis:
Three days after the affair came out, Trisha’s brother came to stay with her. Trish and I were already separated, and weren’t talking to each other. Our marriage was on life-support. I had no way of knowing that her brother was in town — until he showed up at the house in which I was staying.
When my brother-in-law came in the house, I started to apologize. I wanted him to know how sorry I was. I wanted him to know how I wished I could take it back. I wanted him to know how regretful I was that I had betrayed Trisha — and betrayed him. He didn’t say a word; he just came and gave me a hug. He wrapped his arms around my neck and cried with me. After a few minutes, he just said “I love you”.
Radical grace. What I realized in that moment is that my betrayed brother-in-law had demonstrated a more Christ-like love and grace to me than I had ever extended to him. My brother in law is gay. I was a pastor. Till then, we’d had a relationship, but it wasn’t based on grace.
When you’re desperate for grace and you’ve messed your life up beyond your ability to fix it, the rules you’ve lived by no longer make sense. I loved my brother-in-law, but in my heart I judged him. I cared deeply for him, but in my mind I thought I was better than him. In my economy, God was getting a better deal with me.
When you think you don’t need radical grace, it is so much easier to withhold it from others. It is easy to judge the drunk on the corner, the single mom on your kid’s field trip, the abusive husband, the lady on food stamps buying cigarettes at the grocery store, the porn addict. It is easy to think that we are more deserving — more entitled — to God’s love.
What I realized and continue to realize is I am those people. I am the drunk, the porn addict, the prostitute, the abusive husband, the crack addict. I am them, and I need grace.
Do I agree with my brother-in-laws lifestyle? No. But that is the scandalous and audacious thing about grace: it is unconditional. It is unending and undeserved mercy. It has nothing to do with agreeing with a lifestyle or dispensing what someone deserves, or proving a point or being right. Grace flies in the face of all of that.
What kind of grace does it take to hug your sister’s husband three days after he’s admitted to an affair? What kind of grace does it take to say I love you to someone who’s betrayed you so deeply? Radical grace. My brother-in-law gave me something that day that I didn’t deserve and could never repay…and he extended more to me than I had ever been willing to extend to him.
And I am forever grateful.
Do you have trouble realizing your need for radical grace?
Do you have trouble extending radical grace to others?