sacrificing privilege on the altar of grace

Christians conform to the pattern of our grace-starved planet more than we care to admit, but we're called along another path: the way of the cross, on which King became Servant and redemption was won.


God writes his salvation story over shattered hearts and fractured communities, transforming pain and brokenness into beauty and wholeness. None are beyond the grasp of a grace that covers Pharisee, tax collector, and prostitute alike.

We love a happy ending and rejoice when healing is vivid and love wins, but what about the story that's in progress? 

Have we loved the sinned-against as well as we love the sinner? Those wounded by cruel words, violence, or humanity-denying oppression? Can we weep with them in the darkness?

Is there grace for the sexual abuse survivor whose wounds are raw? Will her story turn our listening ear?

Have we grace for the student tormented by bullies?  Can we love him in his hurt?

We trust fervently in a grace that transforms lives and long to speak words of healing, so we plead righteousness from the rooftops, issuing calls to grace, forgiveness, and unity. 

Our desire may be pure, and it all sounds so beautiful. What could possibly be wrong with us unabashedly championing grace?

Here's the harm: the way in which Christians talk about grace often preferences the powerful, privileges the sinner, and expects the sinned-against to get over it, already. 

We rarely put it in those words exactly, but what about these?
God wants you to forgive.
You just need to let go of your anger.
You're reacting emotionally.

Everyone is making too big a deal out of this.
Talking about this issue only perpetuates disunity.
We should save our energy for something that really matters.

These conversation killers look less like grace than legalism, dictating to hurting and marginalized people the "proper" way to react to a pain that we ourselves have not tried to understand.


We worship a God who makes all things new and raises the dead even now.

The love of Christ is no fuzzy sentiment. It encompasses the humility of the cross and the power of resurrection, and it resembles neither cheap grace nor false unity.

Grace comes alongside to listen. She sits with the stories of the wounded, offering presence and prayer over easy answers and presumptuous advice.

Without forcing deadlines, grace welcomes the difficult work of reconciliation. Jesus went to the cross and back for ours, and we'll wrestle together before we see it birthed among us. Grace is not the gospel of "Play nice!" but a light that guides us through conflict, together.

Privileged and powerful, weak and wounded. To transform one is to change us all, and grace looks like accountability and boundaries as much as forgiveness and reconciliation.

What might happen if we expected grace to change us first?

My heart. Not hers.

My sin. Not his.

My reaction. Not theirs.

Healing begins with us, in repentance and listening. In carrying one another’s burdens and laying down power and privilege on the altar of grace.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, 
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, 
    taking the very nature of a servant, 
    being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death 
even death on a cross! 
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
    to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Love serves and sacrifices. Grace surrenders advantage, levels hierarchy, and lifts the humble, not striving to fix or police pain from a comfortable distance but sitting together in its midst.

It is for freedom that Christ sets us free. Love resurrects the abused and abuser without favoring the wounder over the wounded.

Love always protects, and it binds up broken hearts first.

  • Do you think that privilege plays a role in who receives grace?
  • The Outrage Machine gets ugly fast. How can we navigate a way between opting out and throwing mud? How do you discern when to dig in and when to let it go?
  • Finish this sentence: "Grace looks like..." When have you experienced it?
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