No one should expect a worldly person to act with grace; that is, with undeserved mercy, kindness, and compassion. Though it's certainly a welcome blessing when they do, there is absolutely nothing about human nature that would lead a rational mind to expect grace as some sort of default response.
But Christians? Those of us who have been forever changed by unmerited grace? Not only do we have a baseline for fundamentally understanding the concept (though admittedly I find it to be so mind-blowing that I don't know any mortal human can ever fully grasp it), not only do we have a Model to mimic when offering it, we have the Author of grace living inside us, guiding and prompting our consciences.
That's why, even when I see things like this, and my natural impulse is both disgust and a burning desire to counterpunch such a soft target, I can choose better. In case you missed it, here was CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert riffing the other night on Ronald Reagan suffering in Hell.
Apparently that's what passes as edgy comedy these days:
First, the lie about Reagan doing nothing about the AIDS crisis has been debunked repeatedly. I can't be sure whether Colbert knows that and is being intentionally deceptive, or if he and his team of writers skipped doing their homework in order to compose another one of those killer Covid vaccine musical numbers like this:
SEVERE CRINGE WARNING
But the inexcusable part of this Reagan bit is that Colbert himself has made his own personal profession of faith in Jesus a significant part of his public story these last couple years. Talking candidly with progressive activist James Martin's "Faith in Focus" program in 2018, Colbert painted a moving picture of coming back to Christ while standing on a cold street corner reading the Sermon on the Mount.
"If I can love, I can be free," Colbert expressed. "When I think of love, I think of God, and when I think of God, I think of love."
Which part of fantasizing and joking about a self-professed brother in Christ being tormented by demons in Hell counts as love, Mr. Colbert? Were you thinking of God when you mockingly jabbed an imaginary pitchfork into the tormented soul of the former president before condescendingly taunting, "Mommy!"?
Remember also it was Colbert that earned the praise of many Christians, including well-known minister and theologian Tim Keller, for his answer to Dua Lipa when she pressed him about his faith last February. He told the singer that his faith is, "connected to the idea of love and sacrifice being somehow related and giving yourself to other people."
As appreciative of that testimony as I was then and am now, those wearing the name of Jesus have to do more than offer lip service to such high ideals of love and sacrifice. We have to live them – not, thankfully, by our own strength, but with the Holy Spirit, "so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God."
On that front, I would simply offer this observation.
It is a fair question to ask how a person can so giddily and eagerly fantasize about any fellow human being suffering the fate of eternal Hell, while being led and guided by the Holy Spirit. Colbert's antics aren't just in poor taste. Either he doesn't believe in the existence of Hell, or he somehow maintains a capacity of evil so great that he can find joy in the potential eternal torment of another, simply because he doesn't like their politics.
That isn't love, Stephen. That isn't of God. That isn't sacrificially giving yourself to others, and it is far from indicative of a life that has been surrendered to the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
All that said, may the words I just typed not be spoken outwardly while failing to penetrate inwardly. As vile as Colbert's display may have been to the sensibilities of a true believer, those of us who know the power of grace should find it a privilege to offer it to him anyway. Not because he deserves it, but precisely because he doesn't.
A Holy Spirit-led mind cannot want anything but the redemption, regeneration, and rescue of lost and rebellious souls. Hopefully that's something Stephen Colbert will one day understand.