Friday, August 31, 2012

Where's the Grace?

In August of 2001, as I was watching the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, a talented German cyclist tumbled down an embankment while descending the Peyresourde. The fall cost him a noticeable amount of time in the race. Lance Armstrong held back from taking advantage of Ullrich. He waited until his closest competitor caught back up with him. Maybe some would see that as the politically correct choice for Armstrong. But I saw it as a sign that Lance is a man of character. He showed honor to his rival.

I have always tried to avoid writing about anything controversial. I've been a fairly timid person for most of my life. But after reaching my forties, I have surprised myself by the boldness that often rises up in me when I am standing up for what is right.

I pray that I don't ever stir up a hornet's nest by anything I write. But I feel that it's necessary for me to speak up about things that are unjust.

This week I've asked myself more than once, "Where is the grace?"

My reason for asking this question has to do with the unkind comments I have read that were aimed toward Lance Armstrong after he made the decision to withdraw from the fight against the USADA, the organization that has been accusing Lance of using enhancement drugs during his years of competing in cycling events.

In a perfect world, there would be nothing but love and encouragement offered to a person who was undergoing accusations that could possibly be false. Many people seem to believe that Lance is guilty of the accusations without the proper evidence. My belief system causes me to assume someone is innocent until proven guilty.

As a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, my goal is to love others the way that I want to be loved. The second greatest commandment—we all know—is "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Let's just suppose Lance is guilty of lying and cheating in the cycling events. I personally believe he is innocent. But hypothetically speaking, if he were to be found guilty, I would remain supportive toward him. He has proven himself to be the kind of man that wants to do good for this world. He has tirelessly given of his time for the cancer community. And the fact that he may not have the same beliefs as I do about Christ does not change my attitude toward him. Actually, my relationship with Christ is what allows me to have love and to have compassion toward all men regardless of their beliefs or what they may have done.

Earlier this week, my daughter showed me a video with the story of families in Rwanda who have proven it's possible to love and forgive the ones who have committed the most despicable crimes. In the video, the story of the genocide that took place in the nineties is recounted. It's a beautiful story of redemption as they share how some of the murderers have asked for forgiveness. Amazingly, the victims graciously forgave the ones who killed their husbands, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons. Jesus died so that we could all live a life of reconciliation. The story in the video is a powerful example for all of us.

If a woman can forgive the man who murdered her entire family, then certainly we all can forgive the high profile people who may have done something wrong.

It's possible through Christ, to live with a heart filled with compassion and a perfect love toward one another.

When we are all gone from this earth, what do we want to be remembered by? Do we want to be remembered by the critical things we said about others or the judgments we made about them?

When I'm gone from here, I want to be remembered for the love I showed to my fellow man. I want my life to be defined by the grace that saved me. I want to always be an encourager and one that makes people feel deeply loved and appreciated. I want to always see the best in everyone.

The controversy this week surrounding the USADA and Lance Armstrong has caused me to look closer at my own heart. And more than ever, I want to live a life that is defined by grace.

And the second is this:  'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. ~ Mark 12:31 (NIV)

Live Abundantly!

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