Exclusion and Embrace
Reflection by Jayne Davis
In chapter 3, Volf writes, “Inscribed on the very heart of God’s grace is the rule that we can be its recipients only if we do not resist being made into its agents; what happens to us must be done by us.” (129)
Have we become the ultimate consumers - consumers of God’s grace?
The embrace of the father of ‘the prodigal son’ is a moment we long for, ache for even. The belonging, the identity. No longer a stranger in a strange land, but one who is truly known, and loved. We are amazed that the embrace is offered - again and again. And we reach out to receive it again and again.
But when it comes to offering the invitation of embrace, when it comes to being an agent of God’s grace, when it comes to embodying, in that moment, even a fleeting glimpse of the kingdom, do we not stand, instead, as the older brother with our arms tightly folded as a shield of righteousness? And this at the return of our brother with whom we have a history, one whom we presumably loved. Because we are tied to our ‘stuff’? To our image of ourselves? To the future we have decided we will have? We are hostile at his intrusion back into our ordered world instead of open to the new possibilities it might throw open for both of us. The novum of resurrection, Moltmann might say.
If one then who is a part of us cannot break through this dominant narrative that Volf lays out for us, if the return of one with whom we have at one time laughed and cried cannot be received as a gift of God bringing us to repentance and farther down the road from exclusion to embrace, if one in such close proximity to us cannot move us, how will we ever shed our indifference and our blindness long enough to not only see Christ in the mother of Jihad, but to be open to understanding her, to be willing to be changed by her?
I fear that we want the embrace of the Trinitarian love of God to close as a protective circle around us without offering ourselves in love to be transformed. Where does that leave us?