It’s Easter Sunday 2017 – one of those occasional years when Easter coincides for Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike. So with just over 70% of Americans self-identifying as Christians, a large proportion of us went to church today and heard beautiful hymns, carefully-chosen scriptures and inspiring oratory from our Pastors/Priests. There were many flowers, and mild weather that coincides with spring and the metaphor of rebirth that imbues Easter messages and traditions.
At the core of the Easter messages is the resurrection of Christ – the very essence of the Christian faith. The idea that Jesus is God incarnate and he died for our salvation is the one full truth that all Christians can, should and do actually believe in. And that salvation and all the good that comes with it, quite simply, is the grace of God.
God’s grace is a gift, bestowed upon us with love by our creator. Among various Christian faiths there are differing views on the role of prayer, sacraments, actions, intentions and even baptism itself in honoring God’s Grace. And it’s not limited to Christianity – in fact Divine Grace features prominently in many faith traditions around the world. The one common thread to God’s grace is its association with the qualities of compassion, kindness, charity and love. Those qualities are defining elements for what it means to be truly Christian. The idea that we’re all flawed individuals, yet deserving of forgiveness applies not simply to ourselves – but to all those around us. And it behooves us to extend God’s grace to our neighbors and friends with the same spirit of kindness, charity and love that God bestowed his grace upon us. To do otherwise would be to betray the very essence of our Christianity.
It follows that God’s grace should guide our attitudes toward policy and governance for the kind of society we expect our elected officials to foster, promote and safeguard. Honoring and promoting God’s grace should give us the conviction to believe that:
- Everyone deserves the same rights – regardless of race, color, creed, gender or orientation.
- We all have a responsibility to help the underprivileged.
- We are the stewards of the planet – environmental protection is a duty we all must uphold.
- Individuals all deserve the dignity of self-determination, including decisions about their own health care.
- It serves nobody’s interest to deny anyone access to health care and we should help poor people get the care they need.
- There is no sensible reason to allow women or any other group of people to be paid less for the same work.
- We cannot possibly tolerate our police disproportionately beating or killing black people.
- Undocumented immigrants are living, breathing people among us. We should treat them like human beings.
And honoring God’s grace should also give us the conviction to oppose the bigoted, mean-spirited, xenophobic and misogynistic polices of the current US Congress, Presidency and North Carolina legislature. It’s certainly the Christian thing to do.