Grace means “unmerited favor.” It is the concept that the God who created all things loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we are provided the opportunity to receive into our lives the same favor that God has for His Son. It is a gift, pure and simple. We can do nothing to earn or deserve it.
The divisions that we have among people, whether based on race, religion, sex, age, economic status, or any other difference, can only be overcome by the knowledge that grace is available to all. It’s not more available to one person or group than another. No person or group is more or less deserving of God’s grace.
Intellectually, people who believe the Bible can possess this knowledge. But deep inside, any hint of a thought that we are either more or less deserving of God’s grace than any other person creates a divide. We can hide that divide behind any of the differentiators listed above, but those are facades. The bottom line is that if we harbor discriminatory thoughts about any other person for any reason, there is a root inside of us that doesn’t fully believe the message of grace.
I’m guilty of discrimination in all of these areas. I’ve discriminated against people of a different skin tone, different religion, different age, the opposite sex, and people of a different financial position. The bottom-line truth is that at the point of discrimination, whether in thought, word or deed, I didn’t believe that God’s gift of grace was available in equal measure to someone else. I minimized that person or group, which means that I thought I deserved God’s grace more than they did. Accepting this reality within me is the starting point.
Most people dislike the ugliness of injustice perpetrated on people because of bias, whether seen in an appalling violent act or unseen in affecting an unfair decision. We wonder what we can do. We can’t make another person behave or think differently. We can’t single-handedly force cultural or institutional transformation.
What we can do is choose to engage in a life-long pursuit of being a conduit of God’s grace. We can allow the Holy Spirit to teach us from the Word. We are responsible for actively seeking to understand the grace message and allowing ourselves to be transformed as our minds are renewed to that truth. When the truth of God’s unmerited favor, available only through the finished work of His Son, takes root in us, it will uproot those broken perspectives that cause bias and discrimination. When we live with the clear knowledge that grace is a gift that we could never earn, with eyes fixed on Jesus, we can begin to live Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”