There is an asymmetrical dialectic between the “grace” of self-donation and the “demand” of truth and justice. Grace has primacy: even if the will to embrace is indiscriminate, the embrace itself is conditional.
– Miroslav Volf in Exclusion & Embrace (p. 29)
This statement comes in the context of discussing Christ, the Crucified One (that is, Christ on the cross). The premise of the book is to look at how we, as followers of Christ, are to emulate his love for his enemies. How do we live that out?
His argument states that outside the will to embrace the other – the enemy, truth and justice are impossible. However, the full embrace of the enemy in love cannot happen until truth and justice are satisfied. So, God was willing to have sinful creatures such as us, but until the penalty of our sin was paid, the full embrace and welcoming us as adopted sons and daughters could not happen.
I wonder how that plays out with our own encounters of the “other”. As a white, Protestant, American male, I have a hard time with understanding the “other”. I have not been on the harmed side of a relationship culturally, as many others in America and outside of America have. I do not know that I can understand the full cost of giving myself over completely to someone who is devoted to ill against me. My imagination only goes so far.
But I wonder how many people have been the one wronged with me as the enemy? I do not know it, cannot recognize it, am not conscious of it, but am equally as sure that it has, indeed, happened. Knowing I have wronged someone, how would I react to someone who receives me completely even so.
I love books that make you stop and ponder. I want to thank Mike and Scott for introducing this book to me, however unintentional it may have been. I am sure more thoughts will flow as I keep reading. This is result of just the preface!