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Grace for the wicked?

August 9, 2010

Do I want grace for the wicked? There is, within the Christian tradition where I spend most of my time, a pat answer for that. Of course I do. Because I, myself, am wicked. I wish grace for the wicked so that I might have grace for myself. The end result of this answer is that when I think about forgiveness I tend to think about forgiveness aimed at sins like raising one’s voice in an argument and saying some mean things. If that is what grace for the wicked means then, by all means, let’s have some. Most reasonable people already live out that kind of grace.

But what if wicked means, well, wicked?

In 1099 a large contingent of men, claiming to act in the name of Christ, attacked the city of Jerusalem. If their own rhetoric of victory is to be believed they killed so many civilians that the soldiers in the streets waded through blood. Do I want grace for these men? Nine years ago a smaller group of men, claiming to be returning the favor, slammed hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Center, killing close to three thousand people. Do I want grace for those men? Six million people died in Hitler’s Germany. I have no idea how many died under Stalin. Do I want grace for gas chambers and gulags?

Do I want grace for the wicked? For the wicked who kill, rape, maim, abduct, and destroy? For the men whose political ambition lets them trample on the lives of thousands? For those who settle their disputes with murder? For the man who beats his wife and children? For those who make the lives of others hell for the sake of their own gain?

One of my friends has seen the wicked, in their vast droves. She tells me stories of the men who have beaten her, broken her, used her. I cannot remember their names, but I would like to kill them slowly and tape their screams.

I don’t want grace for the wicked. I want justice. I want to call fire, irrevocable, from heaven. Give me the sword and I will set things right. Let me break the wicked in their evil, let my wrath run unchecked and unhindered. Let the wicked suffer. Give me control. Let me deal my Roman peace.

Give me the sword, and I will become wicked. Give me control, and I will beat, and break, and use. My arm will shatter the wicked and the righteous. My wrath will be poison to my soul. My anger will know no bounds.

I want grace for the wicked. I want grace for that terrible beast inside of me. I want grace to save me from my wickedness. I want grace to lift me out of my own reach. The enemy is myself. The wickedness I fear is my own. The twisted things, the dark things, live inside me. In my own likeness are the wicked made. No wonder I want to see them burn. Give me grace, grace for the wicked.

Give me grace, that I might not be wicked. Give me grace, for I am wicked. Give me grace, grace to give to the wicked. Give me justice, that the wicked should not prosper. Give me wrath to pour out upon their wickedness. But give me grace.

Do I want grace for the wicked? I hope so.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. prin permalink
    August 19, 2010 1:13 am

    I want it either way- either grace for the wicked and justice combined or let me be wrathful and vengeful if there will be no justice. But in the meantime, my faith tells me to trust, so I’m relying on the former.


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