Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Face of Grace

I've always been impressed by iconography.  One of the most important icons in my own life is also the oldest known icon of Jesus Christ Pantocrator at St. Catherine's monastery at Sinai.  I think it was my mentor from college, Jay McDaniel, who first exposed me to this icon.  The seperate halves of this face of Christ each convey such different expressions.  When I look at the right half of the face, I see anger, almost a sneer.  McDaniel said that eye feels like a laser boring right into his soul.  The left half of the face expresses compassion and tenderness.   Do you see the difference?  The left half has a softer eye--it is a gaze of love.  
A truth that I have learned from this icon is that grace is both halves of this icon.  Jesus expresses both tenderness and anger.   I think it is conventional wisdom that grace is only that tender acceptance.  The power of a Wesleyan concept of grace, with the dynamic movement through prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace is that notion that grace is also perfecting.  "Going on to perfection" sometimes involves deep discomfort and difficulty.  That's one reason I think Lent is such an important season of faith.  We are confronted with Jesus as a rebuker, as a wild man, as an angry man.  Often, we are lulled into the false idea that being a person of faith means we are nice to everybody.  Augustine said "Hope has two beautiful daughters, Anger and Courage.  Anger at the way things are, and the courage to try to change them."  

1 comment:

  1. Nathan: I hope this blessed you: