Grace: for computer programmers

Posted by Orville Bennett on August 8, 2015
Read time: about 2 minutes

A few years ago my son and I were talking about what he learned in church that Sunday. The end result of that conversation was that I was going to do some reading and then teach him about Grace. Not just any old grace mind you, but God’s grace. Fast forward a few years and he still didn’t have his lesson (I hadn’t done my reading).

Fast forward to this year, and I was invited to facilitate a small group at church. My wife and I got to pick the topic and together we’d lead the discussion of a yet to be determined topic. Seeing the opportunity to kill two birds with the proverbial single stone, I asked her to look up books about grace. That way I’d be able to do some reading about it (being forced to do it to prepare for group) and then be able to go over what I’d learned with my son. And so a plan was born.

That’s how I ended up reading Max Lucado’s Grace: more than we deserve, greater than we imagine. I’ve only just started reading, but at the end of the first chapter Lucado gives an illustration of God’s grace. Me being me, my mind gave me a more nerd relevant illustration to work with.

Grace is God as heart surgeon, cracking open your chest, removing your heart—poisoned as it is with pride and pain—and replacing it with his own. Rather than tell you to change, he creates the change. Do you clean up so he can accept you? No, he accepts you and begins cleaning you up. - Max Lucado, Grace: more than we deserve, greater than we imagine, p. 10

This reminded me of one of the tasks I do at work for the Junior Developer I work with. At work we use git to manage our source code, and each feature is developed in a separate branch. Once a feature is ready, the junior dev will let me know his branch is ready so that I can merge it in with the rest of our code.

Sometimes the code isn’t up to my personal standard and instead of having the the junior developer redo the task I’ll clean up the code myself and then commit it. As I was reading the section quoted above I thought to myself That’s just like doing a git cherry-pick and cleaning it up before I commit it!

So here’s my explanation of grace, for nerds. God is like the Project Lead and you’re a Junior Dev. When your code isn’t up to God’s standard he shows grace by rewriting it and making it better. He makes small changes—and sometimes, big, sweeping changes—instead of making you rewrite the code until it’s up to his standard. And when God’s all done and commits the code, he gives you credit for the work anyway.

So at a glance people who don’t know your code would think, “Wow, nice job! How’d you come up with that?” People who do know how you code would be like, “Hey, the quality of your code’s gotten way better. How’d you pull that off?” And that dear junior dev, will be your opportunity to tell people that it’s not you that’s been doing all this great work, but God.