“There but for the grace of God…”

John Bradford (1510-1555) was gifted intellectually, with skills at law and finance and later became involved with the English Reformation.  He was imprisoned by Mary Tudor who was a Catholic, for a trumped up charge of stirring up a mob.  When one day he saw another prisoner being led to his execution, Bradford is credited with having said, “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”  The expression has often been used since simply as “there but for the grace of God, go I.”  And as we see calamity around us, I think we can all say the same for ourselves. 

I confess that I have enjoyed witnessing the dissension within the democrat party this week as the Rev. Jesse Jackson was caught making an “inappropriate” comment at the conclusion of an interview on Fox News Channel.  In it he makes a crude reference to what he would like to do to Obama for his apparent abandonment of his far left (I’ll call it Marxist) predispositions and support for black people, now that he is making a strategically calculated shift to the center, to rhetorically court moderates and independents.  Jackson has since apologized for the comment.  However, I would contend that he was apologizing for the comment being exposed and the embarrassment it has caused, as I am inclined to believe that the sentiment underlying the comment runs much deeper.

                 

So while I can say without reservation that I wish more of the same faux pas and miscalculations for the democrats in the weeks and months ahead, I do feel genuine empathy for Jackson.  James, the brother of Jesus, correctly understood that:

“with it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not be so.” (James 3: 9,10) 

Surely Jackson is guilty of this contradiction.  And while James surely meant it to be a lesson for all mankind, it seems an even more serious lapse when the tongue belongs to a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While I am not an ordained minister, I do have the privilege of teaching from God’s word, and I am equally guilty of this sinful contradiction that scritpure says “ought not be so.”  While I have relatively little appreciation for Jesse Jackson’s politics or some of the outrageous tactics he uses in support of his social causes, I do sympathizse with the embarrassment and shame from the conviction he is (hopefully) feeling from the Holy Spirit.  There but for the grace of God, goes Chuck Thomas.

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