I am sad.
Not because I share her politics.
I am sad because Christians are encouraged to weep with those who weep, so I am sad for those who mourn her death. I am sad too because of the amount of unpleasantness (and that’s being polite) that has been floating around the social media since her death was announced.
Baroness Thatcher certainly polarised opinion. Some of the policies and laws she introduced were extremely unpopular. Some of the views she expressed and opinions she held were not shared by many people. Her style was at times confrontational and provocative.
But that is not a reason for some of the comments, some of which would be libellous if it were possible to libel the deceased.
I want to reflect on this in the light of what has happened to Paris Brown, the Kent Police Youth Commissioner who made some less than savoury comments on social media which she now regrets. She made them several years ago but people have found them and have questioned whether she is suitable for the role. Many unpleasant things have been said about her.
One of the aspects of our new social media world is that we need to have an awareness that what we might once have considered to be private can now become public. What we might say to a limited audience can be re-broadcast to the world.
We may regret what we have said and done in the past. We might wish we could go back in time and redo what has happened. We may well respond differently now to how we have reacted in the past because we have seen the extent of the damage we have caused.
But in both Paris Brown and Baroness Thatcher’s cases I want to ask the same question: where is grace in all of this?
Grace refuses to hold grudges. Grace recognises that the past can be forgiven and need not hold us hostage. Grace responds to hurt with love. Grace is not malicious, cruel or rude. Grace is gentle, warm-hearted, always ready with second chances. Grace is not judgemental. Grace is humble and generous. Grace embraces, absorbs and absolves what others consider to be ugly. Grace overwhelms and overcomes.
That is how I have experienced God’s grace in Jesus: how can I withhold that from anyone else?
Be blessed, be a blessing.