Greetings, citizens. I apologize for the rather large gap between posts. I have a whole litany of reasons why I’ve been absent from this blog so long (with some probably being more valid than others), but I come baring sage wisdom from renowned author C.S. Lewis. And also the Bible. And Victor Hugo.
Grace vs Law
I read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables my senior year of high school, watched the film adaptation with Liam Neeson, and just recently was able to catch the musical on the big screen. In every single version, the motif that pops out to me more than anything else is this idea of Grace vs. Law. So often we can get caught up in the letter of the law that we often fail to understand the spirit of the law. My friend and mentor Claude Hamilton loves to say that we should apply incredible law to ourselves, and incredible grace to others. While I may be good at applying incredible law to myself, I’ve never been great at the whole “grace” thing.
I was “blessed” with a temperament prone toward judgment and lots of utterings of the phrase, “If I can do it, so can you,” which really translates to: “Stop being such a wuss, suck it up, and grow a spine.” Too often I find myself thinking, “What is wrong with that person? Why can’t they just…” and Judge Catherine Crichlow dons her robes once again.
Then C.S. Lewis shows up and slaps her, as he is prone to do.
There’s a particular passage from Lewis’s book Mere Christianity that has been really resonating with me these last few days. It’s what drove me to break my three-month hiatus. He writes:
“Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices…Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should behave if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on raw material at all, but on what he does with it.”
This hit me harder than a ton of something heaver than bricks. Let’s take out any references to a grand deity or specific religion, and just look at one of the most important lines, as it deserves repeating: we see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. We’re all suckers for the story of the man who was born with nothing and worked his way up to the top. But until we know his story, he’s no different than the man who was born at the top, is he?
I know not everyone is stricken with my level of natural judgey-ness, but I know we all struggle with it to some degree. So I’ll just leave you with the words of a very famous carpenter who had the concept of grace wrapped around his finger: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”