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Reflections on Grace: Playing the Grace Card

by Anna Hartge

 No, it is not a typographical error. We are used to hearing the words “playing the race card.” “Playing the race card” is an expression that refers to the act of bringing the issue of race or racism into a situation. It is compared to having the “trump card” when playing card games. Whoever plays the trump card wins that round. But in a socio-political context, “playing the race card” most often has negative connotations, suggesting that without bringing in the issue of race, the person playing the card would be on the losing side.

I know grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor toward us. Grace is also defined as God’s love demonstrated to us. The meaning of grace is captured in this most often quoted scripture – John 3:16. But what about you and me? How do we show grace to those in our lives? What are we required to give?

In 1998 Christianity Today published an article by Spencer Perkins, entitled “Playing the Grace Card.” Mr. Perkins writes about the relationship between him and his white friend Chris Rice and acknowledges that as close as they were, it was quite a struggle to realize that only by giving each other grace could they find healing and restoration. It is an article worth reading.

I pray for God to help me and you to show more grace to others in life, especially as it relates to improving the race relations between and among those in the Body of Christ. Racial reconciliation is a process and requires intentional action. It requires a willingness to change; a willingness to become new in Christ in our relationship with people from diverse backgrounds; a willingness to get involved in working together; and a willingness to play the grace card as we learn to develop meaningful relationships with others.

Romans12:1-2 urges us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Playing the grace card is a sign of transformation. It gives us a chance to grow into a better understanding of ourselves and others. Playing the grace card is an act of loving your neighbor. Playing the grace card makes you a winner in God’s sight! It’s in your hand!

 Rev. .Brenda Girton-Mitchell


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Andrea Girton-Lee July 23, 2010 - 8:44 am

Good read. It is true that through our own personal eyes we take our media impact, our memory of our personal encounters, and disrespectful and untrue views of others we find ourself not allowing grace to take over how we treat others. We must stop and allow Grace into our hearts daily, we expect God to do it for us. Therefore, we should expect it to POUR out of us as well. Lets give grace and mean it!

Edco Bailey July 25, 2010 - 3:14 pm

Note the story in Acts 10 where Paul learned that the gentiles were not “unclean” (suitable for ethnic exclusion) in the sight of God and were indeed worthy of grace #1, i.e. fellowship in the Holy Spirit.

And check out that verse about not taking the children’s bread and giving it to dogs, i.e. (Jewish valuables to gentile Canaanites) Matthew 15:26

And see the interactions between Samaritan woman at the well with Jewish Jesus John 4:9

These are indicators of cross-cultural conflicts in the ancient world, but I am not sure if they rise to the level of racisms that surface out of the experience of slavery in the history of our country. Thus, one need be careful not to read too much into the texts.

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