How Far Does Grace Reach?

A few months ago we got a letter notifying us that a sex offender was moving into our neighborhood. And everyone was abuzz:

“Can we stop him from moving in?”

“Is it safe for my kids to play outside?”

“Is it legal for him to live this close to children?”

Our homeowner’s association even had a meeting to discuss what to do once this guy moved in and had a sheriff present to calm the residents’ fears.

We were out of town so weren’t able to attend. But we weren’t sure if we even wanted to. The way things were going, we wouldn’t have been surprised if villagers showed up with torches and pitchforks to drive this sex offender out of town!

So here’s the problem: Didn’t Jesus die for this guy? Isn’t Jesus willing to extend grace even to a sex offender?

If we have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves and offer them the same grace which has been given us; how do we, as Christians, treat them?

Do you show up at their front door with a torch and a pitchfork, or do you show up with cookies?

anth Anthony Trask lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife Susan and his two beautiful children. He is a pastor at Fellowship Church in NE Salem. He is currently trying to figure out how to lead a community of grace, hope, and love within our culture. You can visit their website at www.fellowshipsalem.com

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “How Far Does Grace Reach?

  1. This is a tough one. We have searched through the online directories for sex offenders in our neighborhood. There are lots all over the city.

    We should treat them with grace, but obviously that doesn’t mean we’re going to ignore what they’ve done and let our kids play in their backyard.

    Grace doesn’t mean we ignore what has been done. There are consequences even after forgiveness has taken place.

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  3. Scott

    Grace and trust are two very different things. Right now, I feel comfortable letting my two children (6 and 4) play outside without me or my wife continuously watching them. Would I do that knowing there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood? NO! Are there any registered sex offenders in my neighborhood? Not that I know of, but I agree with Vin. There are consequences for sin, and sexual sin, as Paul tells us is unique (not worse, but unique), and I lean toward being over-protective with my children in these morally corrupt days.

    To be honest, I really struggle with the fact that our justice system is so lenient on the sex offender, in particular the pedophile. The statics overwhelmingly show that pedophiles will continue to repeat their crime, and really don’t care about the consequences.

  4. Daniel Engstrom

    I agree With Vin Thomas::

  5. Chad Harvey

    I think everyone above has expressed how I feel also. I think the sex offender 'deserves' grace as much as all of us. Meaning, he/she doesn't deserve it at all. None of us do. I think God extends his unmerited grace to all of us, including the most vile sinner we can think of. God can bring restoration to anyone and we are not supposed to decide who is worthy of hearing the message.

    With that said, my job as a father is to lead my family. Leadership includes protection. There is no way in the world I would knowingly place my daughter in any sort of harms way. We are called to love the lost… but that guy/gal wouldn't be within 100 yards of my child.

    I guess I'll have to see how I respond if ever put a situation to do so…

  6. What's crazy to me is that Jesus actually BECAME the sex offenders sin. He didn't just die FOR it; He became it and it was nailed to the cross and left there upon His death if the sex offender has received that unmerited gift of grace. That's crazy- that the Bible implies that God the Father actually had to turn His face away from God the Son due to Him becoming the most vile, inconceivable sins. That's true love!
    I also think of how Paul was a Christian killer. By Law, he wasn't required to due time or be put to death for that- and because of that undeserved freedom- He spread the Gospel; and did time for THAT???
    Should sex offenders/pedophiles due prison time: absolutely! Should pedophiles do life in prison: I think so! But most of the time they do not…..And how to interact and deal with them on a one-on-way Gospel centered way, I don't know.

  7. Nick

    Let’s not forget to ask the question whether they have received Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. This is a supernatural thing that changes a person. Even a Christian who stumbles must earn back trust in such circumstances. As far as reaching out to them as another soul in need of Jesus… Their soul is as valuable as ours.

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