Christians are quick to say, “Love your enemies.” But do we practice what we preach?
Grace D Williamson
The Grace Card explores God’s grace and Christians’ responsibility to show that grace to others – even our enemies.
The film introduces Memphis, TN police patrolman Mac McDonald (Michael Joiner). Past tragedy has left him with a broken family and a grudge against God. He faces life loveless, hopeless, and cynical.
Sam Wright (Mike Higgenbottom), an up-and-coming police sergeant during the week and a fiery preacher on the weekends, is Mac’s complete opposite. He is an unapologetic Christian, tenderhearted, jovial…and black.
When the two are assigned to work together, tension immediately sets in. Mac’s southern-rooted racial prejudices begin to surface. With his family life crumbling and his job heading toward a dead end, Mac directs more and more bitterness toward Sam.
His strained relationship with Mac causes easygoing Sam to face a few problems of his own. On Sundays he exhorts his congregation to love their enemies, but during the week he struggles with feelings of anger, animosity – even hate – toward Mac.
Both characters give us a vulnerable glimpse of reality. Both Christians and non-Christians struggle with sin. The difference lies in how we respond. The Grace Card asks the question, will we give in to hopelessness and bitterness or rest in the grace of Christ?
At every turn The Grace Card holds up Christ as the answer. He alone can reconcile damaged relationships, redeem troubled pasts, and offer a hopeful future. Sam learns to extend grace to others. Mac learns to accept it.
Despite a few awkward deliveries by some minor characters, both Joiner and Higgenbottom give fairly professional performances. Some circumstances depicted in The Grace Card seem a little unbelievable, but the message rings clear. At times the film’s pacing lags because of lengthy dialogue, but solid character development keeps it interesting.
The Grace Card is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements. The film follows Mac and Sam into Memphis slums rife with drugs and abuse. In Mac’s own home we see some ugly arguments between him and his wife. But never is the fighting or violence gratuitous. It is simply a picture of hard reality and the struggles we all face to one degree or another.
When Mac’s struggles culminate in unimaginable disaster, Sam faces a choice. He can either leave Mac wallowing in anger and guilt, or he can extend the grace he has received from Christ to the broken man.
The Grace Card carries the message of grace beyond a sermon. Sam learns to give of himself, reaching out to Mac in the midst of desolate circumstances. Rather than merely preaching about grace on Sundays, he learns to practice it.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson Christians can take from The Grace Card is that the greatest witness to God’s grace is not spoken of in a pulpit but acted out in everyday life. Sam wonders whether he should quit the police force and go into full time ministry for the church. His Grandfather (Louis Gossett Jr.) encourages him to view his whole life, not just church on Sunday, as ministry.
It may have an alter call moment, but The Grace Card is not a typical sunshine-and-flowers Christian film with g-rated scenarios and flat characters. It digs deep into the deceptive heart of man, shows us our brokenness, and offers Christ’s grace as the only remedy.