We celebrated Easter last week. It is a distinctive time, a time of reflection; of who we are and what God has done through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time to consider the application to our lives of God’s sacrifice, His love, forgiveness and immense grace and how we manifest this to others daily.
We live in a world of broken people or whatever term one wishes to use: sinners, failures, etc. The message of Easter does not settle on this. It overcomes this. The message of Easter is the grace that God has shown mankind due to His immense love.
Sadly, in this era of the “cancel” culture some have forgotten this measure. A Biblical parable describes a man whose debt was forgiven by a ruler after begging for mercy. Grace was granted by the ruler to this debtor. Sadly, this forgiven man went out and had another man who was indebted to him thrown into prison. Grace must be a lens by which we see ourselves and how we see others. This recognition results in a God given, amazing sense of personal peace, a “shalom.” Those who understand grace know that we as a people will suffer moral failings, but we don’t have to be defined by these failings.
We are defined by a self-examination that leads to repentance and the ensuing struggle of moral growth. Contrition and learned wisdom from failure and repentance crafts us into who we are. We are not defined by our worst moments, but by who we evolve to be after the failure. Wisdom and moral growth results from a redeemed heart.
What this culture cries out for is for those with redeemed hearts to demonstrate and model empathy. We demonstrate Christlikeness by offering grace and forgiveness to others, rather than by “canceling” them. Embracing them with mercy, rather than rejection. It is a conscious awareness of the needs of others. To those of you who do this instinctively, I am humbled by you. I believe people long for a “resurrection” of these values within our communities. Two things give all of people value; God created them and Christ died for all. This is the basis by which we see value in all others.
I am a board member of several Christian organizations. I recall an occurrence where one of the organization’s members had errored badly. In the ensuing board review it was said by one board member that this action does not define an entire life … to my dismay, another board member replied, “oh yes it does.”
Is this what we have become? I am not advocating dismissing consequences for poor actions, but those consequences must be meted out with a contrite heart, not one out of glee or sanctimony. We must act to restore and/or rescue all persons.
“Is it easy to love?” asks an old author. 'It is easy,' he replies, 'to those who do it.' I have included two Graces under the word Charity. But God can give a third. He can awake in man, towards Himself, a supernatural, appreciative love.
This is of all gifts is the most to be desired. Here, not in our natural loves, nor even in ethics, lies the true center of all human and angelic life. With this all things are possible.” C.S.Lewis.
Christianity is a hospital. It welcomes the needy. It is meant for the broken. It is a salve on the soul of a culture. It promotes a warm, unconditional regard for all others. It emphasizes what unites us under a loving God, not what divides us.
“We don’t come to church, to be a church. We come to Christ, and then we are built up as a church. If we come to church just to be with one another, one another is all we’ll get. And it isn’t enough.
Inevitably, our hearts will grow empty, and then angry. If we put community first, we will destroy community. But if we come to Christ first and submit ourselves to Him and draw life from Him, community gets traction.” C.S. Lewis
As a community let’s daily give folks what is needed; appreciation, love, and grace. Let’s emphasize those things which make us community. My thoughts may be Panglossian to some. So be it, but they are borne out of Truth and of hope.
Don’t be mistaken, I am not some expert theologian, rather one who has been broken. One who has looked in a mirror and cannot believe sometimes what he sees. One who has been the beneficiary of immense and wondrous forgiveness, mercy and grace shown to me by both God and others. Rejoice in His Grace. He IS risen. We are not home yet. Happy belated Easter.
Tim Durkee, R-1, is a Rockford alderman.