This is my daughter. She is four years old. Her name is Grace. Grace is amazing.
A few months before she was born I wanted to find some things with her name on them so my first thought was to go look at religious bookstores. That makes sense right? After all the whole idea of god’s grace is supposed to be a big deal in Christianity. One of the things that I hear a lot from Christians is that people are saved by god’s grace and not what they do. So obviously there would be a lot of things with the word grace on it at a religious bookstore right? Well…not so much.
I went to a small mom & pop store as well as a large store that was part of a national chain and between the two of them I found a total of 9 things with the word “grace” on them. That includes 3 mugs, a water bottle, 3 different pieces of artwork and two small bookmarks with bible verses on them with the word “grace” in them. Now I am sure there were all sorts of books and songs with that word in them but that was not what I was looking for. The lack of items with the word “grace” on them was surprising enough but while I was looking around I noticed that there were a lot of items with words like love, hope, faith and things like that. While there is nothing wrong with those words items like that can be found anywhere such as Walmart or Target. That they were in the religious stores was no surprise but that they greatly outnumbered items with the word “grace” on them was a surprise. However, perhaps the thing that I found most peculiar was the word that was most common and outnumbered every other word: journey.
Journey is not a word that i generally associate with Christianity. As far as religions go, I would assume it would go better with religions such as Hinduism with their emphasis on reincarnation and all of that. It is also a word that could be found on things in the homes of people who are not religious or even in offices along with those motivational posters that end up as memes.
I guess perhaps the reason why the prevalence of the word journey caught me off guard so much is that more often than not it seems that the emphasis in American Christianity is not so much on the journey as it is the destination. All the emphasis seems to be on getting saved and rescuing “the lost.” It is far more common to see churches do outreach to bring people into their church in order to do what that church thinks needs to be done to alter their final destination than it is to see churches get involved in their communities just to help people where they are at in their lives. While there seems to be a shift in this sort of thinking, especially among younger Christians, the change is slow and often met with a lot of bitter resistance from those who still see community involvement as something unimportant or at least much less important that the whole turn or burn thing.
I often think of my shock and sad disappointment at the lack of grace in those stores. Most of the time I wonder how much different this world would be if Christians really did put that much emphasis on the journey and much less on the destination (kinda like Jesus did with all that messy love & forgive stuff). I think there would be a lot more hope, faith, love and grace in this world. Now that truly would be amazing.