Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Giving up on Good Men

Sometimes, in the rush of everyday life, it's easy to forget about the depth of our sin and the radical nature of God's grace.

Mid-twentieth century American author Flannery O'Connor wrote two novels and over thirty short stories reflecting on morality and faith. When asked in an interview about the frequent violence of her writing, O'Connor said, "The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism... when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror."

She published one of my favorite stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," as part of a collection in 1955. Here's how it begins:
The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. "Now look here, Bailey," she said, "see here, read this," and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. "Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did..." (Keep reading...)
Read the whole story once.

Then read it again.

Read it a third time.

Ask yourself, Where is Christ in this story about a search for "good men"?

Now look again.

The Misfit says, "He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but thow away everything and follow Him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him."

Ponder that for a moment.

When you get right down to it, there's very little safe or comfortable about grace, but doesn't that fact only make it more amazing?!

(c.f. Galatians 5, Romans 7)

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