Called to Grace
There is an old Swahili proverb that cannot be ignored in any discussion of grace. “It is not what name others call you that matters but what name you respond to that truly determines who you are.” If you believe that the concept of grace exists, then you must answer the grace to live it. And yes, it really is just that simple.
This week we are using the subjective perspective in our discussion of grace. Subjective probability is an individual person’s measure of belief that an event will occur. Using this view, it makes perfectly good sense intuitively to talk about the probability of certain things. For instance, the probability is good that stocks will go up tomorrow. This attitude would be based upon either a classical look at the market averages or an empirical view, If you play the stock markets, then you must believe at some point your stocks will go up and make you money so saying there is a probability that stocks will rise is simply a matter of living out what you believe.
I once heard an angry teenager yell out “I didn’t ask to be born!” The probability of that statement is quite high, based upon known knowledge that no one can ask anything prior to birth. The classical perspective defends this statement because until one is born, one is not considered to exist nor able to communicate. My empirical interpretation furthers makes such a statement true because no infant I have seen has been able to articulate seconds after birth, much less prior to one’s entrance into the world.
My subjective opinion, however, is a bit different. Subjectively, I expect a heartbeat to be determined in a developing fetus at a certain gestational age. To me, that heartbeat is the yet-to-be born infant’s statement of purpose. It is, in effect, the baby telling all its desire to be. If one is determined to be pregnant, I believe a birth is the intended outcome. Subjectively I believe a heart will begin to beat in utero, asking to be born.
Does this mean I do not believe in abortion? No. All it means is that I believe there are many layers to the so-called phrase “Right to Life”. It also means I believe we are called to grace, not blatant judgment. We are called to show grace whenever and where we can.
Grace is not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. It is what we are all called to do each and every day. The problem with the subjective view is that it is personal. That means what I believe is not what you will believe. To avoid problems, many religious faiths have a very narrow theological lens with which they allow actions to be conveyed. The ability to show grace is strongly contained within those parameters and is the main reason for the “intentions versus disconnect” model we discussed yesterday that is causing churches to hold half-empty services.
Differing perspectives and ways of living faith are sometimes seen as threatening to the institutions of belief that exist worldwide. Rather than really live their faith, such belief systems have been hijacked by exploiting the fear of many. We are called to show grace and kindness when being with each other, to see the beauty that lies within each unique person. The subjective approach makes one walk the walk and talk the talk. You cannot believe stocks will go up and, at the same time, believe they will go down. You cannot claim to believe in the concept of grace and then fail to live. Subjectively I believe today you will have the calling to be gracious to someone. How will you answer the call?