We often experience minor culture shock when we return to Brazil. We must remember to bag our own groceries, but let someone else pump the gas. I have to readjust my thinking when I shop because the customer has very few rights. That’s why I wasn’t completely surprised when the man at the post office would not let me exchange the stamps I bought the other day.
There is always a long wait at the post office so with no one in line last Wednesday, we zipped in, grabbed some stamps, and rushed home. Only then did we notice that on every one of them was of a statue of a nude female. This was not exactly what I had in mind for our thank you letters to supporters (!) so I returned to the post office on Friday. I waited in line for half an hour only to be told that I could not exchange the stamps because each stamp had to be accounted for and mine were already marked in the system as sold.
It wasn’t that the man behind the counter didn’t trust me. He knows me. But the post office in general does not trust its workers and he had no ability to make an executive decision because there are gazillions of rules to prevent even the smallest of thefts. This lack of trust, part of the warp and woof of Brazilian culture, has always been a source of annoyance to me. I like being trusted and I don’t like being seen as “guilty until proven innocent.”
But in light of human nature, it makes perfect sense. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one is holy, not even one. Yet the glorious truth is that because of Christ’s death and resurrection we don’t have to be identified by our sin and guilt! Because Jesus bore our full punishment, we are able to stand as righteous before the Father. The lack of grace at the post office (and in the world in general) reminds me to be thankful for the lavish grace of our Lord. Happy Easter!