When one looks at the religions of the world, I would lump atheists in that group... what is it that sets Christianity apart? Is it a higher standard of ethics? Not really, in this postmodern world ethics is held in fairly high regard by many of the groups. Some groups have pet issues that they elevate beyond others, but on the whole, especially in the western world ethics is held in high esteem. So then, it is not ethics that separates Christianity from other belief systems.
The concept that separates Christianity from other religions and belief systems is grace; that is, grace defined as unmerited favor. We live in a world chock full of ethics and ethical codes, and very, very little grace. All of the isms that have fairly high ethical codes really have no grace. Forgiveness is rare; turning the other cheek unheard of. And yet, the thing that truly sets Christianity apart is God’s grace. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting sin.” Read those words over and over and ponder them… that is simply an amazing and unbelievable concept. If we are to be Godlike, that is, emulate God’s behavior, first and foremost we must possess grace. We must be willing to pass grace on to others daily.
Grace produces the highest ethical behavior of all. Grace produces love… genuine love for God, and as a result of that love, a gracious love for others. We er'e greatly when we demand legal ethics over grace. When we focus on legal constitutional ethics we remove grace from the equation. In true Christianity, not the questionable facsimile known as orthodox evangelical fundamentalism, but in true Christianity which is synonymous with following and emulating Christ, grace, and grace alone is the catalyst for a much higher ethical position. It starts with God’s grace to humanity, embraced, trusted, and totally relied upon and it then flows through humanity to others.
The kind of grace I am writing about is stifled, retarded if you will allow the term, by the insistence on legal constitutional ethics and obedience. This legal constitutional ethics finds its most repugnant manifestation in the Christian right. If the proponents of the Christian right had their way there would be little difference between their form of rule and sharia law. The form of rule they would adopt is a legal constitutional moral code of ethics based upon their interpretation of the bible and would be VOID of grace.
Redemptive ethics works very differently. It is rooted in forgiveness and second chances. The God of Christianity is the author of 490 second chances… 70 X 7 really means unlimited chances. If we were to get that ingrained in our minds… renewed to our minds… I beseech ye brethren by the mercies of God… That is Grace my friend. The mercies of God, is God’s grace. It is unlimited, unmerited favor. Oh if Christianity would only truly preach the gospel and nothing else!