Gerald Mann in his book, When the Bad Times are Over for Good, tells how he and six other students took an advanced Greek course from a professor who never gave an A. When the seven students went to their first class, the professor held up his little black book and said, “This is the grade book for the course. There has never been an A entered in it. No one has ever deserved or earned it. But this course will be different. I have already written your names in the book. And I have already entered your grades. It makes no difference how much or how little you study. It makes no difference how high you score on tests. Your grade will not change. Everyone gets an A.”
Mann writes that he worked harder in that course than he had ever worked before and learned more Greek than he thought possible. The professor had taken away the fear of failure from the very beginning. The students got an A simply for being in the class and that gave them the power to perform. One of the students just loafed. He didn’t attend classes. He didn’t even try. But he got an A too. That, writes Mann, is Grace!
If “Love is at the heart of all things,” then we all begin life with an A (Grace). No matter what our circumstances, no matter what we do or do not do, no matter what we believe or do not believe, no matter how we handle the course of life, we get the A. We get the A no matter how we flounder and even if we are not aware of the A. The A is still ours no matter how battered and scarred we are at the journey’s end. Can Love (if at the heart of all things) do otherwise?
Many Christians, both past and present, would bulk at this definition of Grace. They would say the student must love the Lover back, must live a certain way, must believe certain things, must earn the A, and if not, they will get an F! This abolishes the notion of Grace!
Suppose we were to mentally give an A to everyone, our neighbors, friends, and enemies. Suppose we were to say, we love you no matter what. We have given you an A, do what you will, we will still give you an A. What might happen if we, too, were “graceful?”