Are We Not People of Second Chances?

In 2007, President George W. Bush gave a speech advocating for the Second Chance Act.  He was optimistic that the bill would transform incarceration through reentry programs. Bush believed the USA “country was built on the belief that each human being has limitless potential and worth.  It passed and became law. In March of 2021, President Joe Biden followed this up by proclaiming April as Second Chance Month and said, “By focusing on prevention, reentry, and social support, rather than incarceration, we can ensure that America is a land of second chances and opportunity for all people.”

Two presidents.  One a Republican and one a Democrat.  One a United Methodist Christian and one a Roman Catholic Christian.  No president is perfect and there are many decisions that must be made as the leader of a nation that may challenge the faith someone might have.  But here, in these two presidents, we see the convictions of their faith lived out.

There is so much that we can look and see what divides us as individuals, in our marriages and families, within our nation and within our church.  Our United Methodist Church has been in conflict for some time now and is heading for a parting of ways between the Global Methodist Church and the UMC.  For me, it truly puts friends and colleagues of mine of many years on “the other side.” 

But this does not make us enemies. We are a people of second chances…and third and fourth and fifth chances.

Our presidents must have thought of Good Friday and the criminals on the cross:

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other responded, and rebuking him, said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving [c]what we deserve for our crimes; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-42

Jesus was never inconsistent or contradictory with his words.  Before the cross, one of his disciples asked Jesus point-blank, how many times to forgive:

21 Then Peter came up and said to Him, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times.  Matthew 18:21-22

Now, you may not LIKE what Jesus advocated for in his words or his actions but they have been and remain foundational to the Christian faith experience and part of our teachings for centuries. Jesus also intended us to use our reasoning and we have no reason to remain in the presence of someone who hurts us. If they demand your coat, give them your shirt also and let them be on their way (those in the UMC and GMC might consider this (Luke 6:29)). Jesus never said you are obligated to hate or hold animosity toward another.

We are a people of second chances and our faith is a faith of second chances and our Savior, this Easter, is a God of second chances, and third, and even seventy-seven chances (and even more)!  There is no limit to God’s forgiveness and let us live the same way!  If Bush and Biden could find common ground from their faith, then we can too. How will you give second chances? Who will you give second chances?

Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God...this is The Way…the way of the Christ, the way of Jesus.


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