“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
Scripture encouraged the Jewish people to take their rightful place in the public square. Christians accept the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament as sacred texts, containing all that is needed to guide us rightly in this life and safely to the next.
As Anglicans we have Hebrew roots. Jesus was Jewish. We remain supportive of the Jewish people and oppose antisemitism.
Racism has no place in Christianity. The Racial Equality Charter of the Anglican Church of Canada makes this the standard for all Canadian Anglicans. Our baptism calls on us to respect the dignity of every human being.
We are not perfect. We fail and make mistakes. We are, though, called to be “perfect even as God is perfect.” This is no small demand. It is an enormous requirement asked of each follower of Jesus Christ.
The spirituality of the desert mothers and fathers is a striving for perfection to the point of exhaustion. To gain power over their fallen nature and to acquire sanctification, union with God, they fast often and pray around the clock. With great effort they climb to the top of the Ladder of Divine Ascent. There they reach a state of overflowing love for God and for humanity. They now live for the love of God and for their fellow human beings.
From this lofty place, hard won by effort and grace, they teach those of us “still in the world” how also to grow in love for God and for one another.
None of these great spiritual warriors think of themselves as anything but sinners. And so their make their ceaseless prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
Christianity is an ongoing demand on us who profess to belong to it. We are called to lifelong learning and growing. We are called to a life of love. To see in every grain of sand the presence of God and in every person, even our enemy, the face of God.
Racism has no place in the church and among Christians. Antisemitism has no place either. In fact, looking down on anyone has no place.
This is the golden standard. Christians have failed to live up to it at times and perhaps never fully. But Jesus did! And as followers and disciples of him, we are constantly called to learn and grow; to come to know better, and do better.
Christianity is not just about right belief. It is not just about tradition. It is not just custom and nominal belonging. It is much more demanding than that. It is about giving our heart to God; making God the most precious and valuable relationship we have. It is about being transformed, renewed, and redirected. It is about everything. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This is the first and greatest demand placed on all who are Christian. The second is to love our neighbour as we love ourself. Neither is easy and neither is possible without both the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and enormous effort on our part.
The rewards of striving to love God and neighbour, however, are beyond description. We are not only transformed, we are brought into God’s presence and love, into harmony with neighbour and creation. There we know a peace that passes understanding and a joy that lifts us about every sorrow.
The world is made a better place. Life becomes abundant and eternal.