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The scandal of grace

March 15, 2012

For some time now the media, and much of the public, has been sputtering about the pardons that former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour gave to nearly 200 current and former prisoners on his last day in office.  The outrage, which is indeed understandable, focused on four convicted murders that were set free and some of the families of their victims have become near-regulars in TV news appearances denouncing the pardons. 

But, in the end, the Mississippi Supreme Court eventually ruled that the pardons were well within Barbour’s authority and legal.  With no other recourse the situation, whatever we think of it, appeared to be over.  The furor still has not died down however and I saw yet another news piece on CNN last night where angry family members once again expressed their pain.  It was heartbreaking.

I don’t really have any comment about the pardons themselves, I simply don’t know enough to make any judgment, but it did get me thinking once again what a scandal grace is.  A pardon is just about the closest human equivalent to the saving grace we receive at salvation.  In a pardon it is as if the crime had never been committed.  Not only is the penalty removed, so is the status as a felon and any and all legal restrictions.  The pardoned individual takes the same status as if they had never done the crime. 

So what was the reaction to these pardons?  Outrage.  Again, understand the feeling.  There seemed to be no justice; no compensation or even consideration for the victims.  What if these guys commit more crimes?  What if they come after the victims again?  Why should they enjoy freedom they don’t deserve?  Gosh those objections resonate, don’t they?

The theme of the comments is that “it isn’t fair.”  I was agreeing too.  But suddenly the discussion rang a bell.  Isn’t that what saving grace is?  Unfair?  That you and I have been saved at all, been declared pardoned from our sins, is unfair.  It is indeed a scandal.  It is so scandalous in fact that we, consciously or unconsciously, try and work around it.  We develop lists of “ought to” items that demonstrate we are saved; we labor to show that God was right all along to save people as fine as us.  In short, we legalize the grace with a dash of works. 

It is so odd, isn’t it?  Jesus, on the cross, destroys the ladder of legalism and law that was seen as the way to climb to heaven.  We thank him with joy and sing “Amazing Grace”.  And then we go out and buy the lumber for a new ladder.

How hard it is to rest in grace.



From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Steven permalink

    I love it when someone gets set free. 🙂

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