Jason E. Fort
Common Ground - Lack of Grace
Have you ever tried the winter Olympic sport of curling? It takes a certain amount of grace and finesse - both of which I have very little.
A friend of mine, we'll call him FRANK :), and I got together the other day to support my brother in a community introduction to the sport of curling. First of all, let's just say that both Frank and I are of the body type that would place us in the heavy weight fighting class in boxing and UFC. So this sport, on slippery ground, was hard for both of us. But despite the challenges, we overcame, and we swept, and we pushed the rock. Now good times were had by all I believe...but let me tell you a little bit about me and Frank.
Frank spent a better part of his youth in the city of Chicago. Frank happens to be a black man.
I was born and raised in good ol' South Carolina. I happen to be a white man. The largest city in which I've ever resided is Greenville, SC.
One can assume we had very different experiences growing up. Frank and I happen to see certain political events and issues differently sometimes. Frank works in educating college students; I am a police officer. One can see how a black man from one of the largest American cities and a southern white man from a small city may have different views. Yet somehow, Frank and I are friends. Recent friends no less, but we have common ground. You know where that common ground is?
Well, in more ways than one...it is that we both suffer from a lack of grace. Now, first, let's keep this light hearted for a moment, and go back to curling. Take two 250+ pounders and put them on ice, and you can see where being sure footed may be an issue. You put me on solid ground, and I still wouldn't consider myself to be a Fred Astaire. So physically speaking, two big lugs, while perhaps powerfully built, are not who you want doing your next figure skating performance - due to a lack of grace. Go ahead; I said light hearted...if you know us and want to picture it, laugh it up if you like.
Now, let's get a little more serious. How can two guys from totally different backgrounds, find enough common ground to still be friends when they may have some pretty different perspectives?
Lack of grace.
See, one thing I left out is that Frank and I are both believers in Jesus Christ. If you know the history of Jesus Christ, then you know it is only by THE GRACE OF GOD THAT WE ARE SAVED. Without what Jesus did for us, the HUMAN RACE, guys like Frank and I - we have no grace. It is not our grace that can save us...it is only the grace of God. If you are not familiar with the story, but have only heard it in passing or made fun of on the news or Hollywood, I encourage you to read the Bible; specifically the New Testament, though I reccomend the whole package.
So why am I writing about this lack of grace? I am writing in response to the havok I see going on in Charlotte, NC. I am writing because of the oppression, whether real or perceived, by famous athletes and celebrities. I am writing because of the undeniable division right now between black and white citizens and law enforcement.
Once again, Frank is black. I am a police officer. How can we go curling together? What?!
It is because of that common ground we have, the fact that we both understand that neither one of us have grace ourselves, but must rely on the grace of God. That is our common ground, and despite our spirited debates on Facebook, and our different backgrounds, and even different friends - we can unite; not divide.
So I challenge every one out there. Find the common ground. Admit your lack of grace. Police officers out there - my fellow officers and others in various departments everywhere...even in our most heated arguments and controversies, we don't deny we have bad apples. That is a lack of grace. Let's admit we have it more often in the conversation, and welcome the voice of concerned citizens. Black community members - I am a white man. Of course I won't apologize for that, but I can tell you that the perception white people have when they see rioting and chaos to get a point across is a total lack of grace. White people, when our own bad apples...let's go ahead and admit it, the KKK, have shown their true colors - big time lack of grace. It is obvious throughout the human race; throughout human history; no matter what color of skin. We, ourselves, as humans, have no natural grace. Instead, we have sin. And if more and more of us are unwilling to admit it, there will be no grace for any of us.
If you are a believer, change the conversation. Frank and I can argue, and show crazy emojis in our messages, but we come back to the message of Christ, and then there's that common ground again. THIS is what needs to happen. But in order to be able to do this, turn off the news. Stop picking this side or that side. I am just as guilty, so the challenge is to myself as well. But if we continue to let media influence our approach to others, the enemy will win. And make no mistake about it, the enemy knows we as people are not graceful...not without God.
If this makes sense to you, please share. If it inflames your inner spirit, then I am sorry. But I encourage all of us, the human race, to unite - not divide. Just my two cents. I pray God in Heaven helps more of us find a better way.
Jason E. Fort