So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement. James 2: 12-13
I've noticed an apparent trend among believers that is disturbing to me. Maybe I'm overly sensitive. That's a definite possibility. But, maybe it's a real flaw that needs to be addressed. All I know is that I'm disturbed.... seriously disturbed. And, after months of reflecting, praying, begging for wisdom & patience & anything else I may be lacking, I've got to "put it out there."
It seems that believers are seeking to do a better job in offering grace and mercy to the world. Please notice that I said better! I'm not sure we're offering best, and I'm not sure we will EVER fully know what IS the best way to offer grace and mercy to a sinful world. Jesus was here! He did it perfectly. We will never quite get it. We are facing some pretty HUGE issues in our world. I won't even name them, because any one that comes to your mind would work. Right is right and sin is sin. But, I struggle daily with the way I am to respond to this in my world. When I see Jesus in the Gospels, He responds to sin in a much different way than I see on a daily basis and very differently than I am prone to respond. But, that's a different subject.
My disturbance over the past couple of months concerns the way WE (believers) offer mercy to other believers. I'm afraid it's ANYTHING but MERCIFUL. I see it over and over, and it breaks my heart!
How often, in a church family, will someone get annoyed that their pastor or lay leader doesn't react to his/her family crisis correctly? If you've been part of a church family long enough, you've seen this MULTIPLE times. Where is the mercy here? Mercy might question WHY. But, mercy would understand that, in a church of many members, leaders have huge agendas. Mercy wouldn't assume the worst like, "my pastor doesn't care." There are a million reasons why we don't get responses we think we deserve. But, I believe mercy recognizes that it's not always about ME.
What about in our own families? We might be very likely to offer mercy to a stranger on the street in the name of Jesus, but just let my spouse forget to put his dishes in the dishwasher, and it's game over! He's getting the cold shoulder for at least a day. When mercy triumphs over judgment, it should start at home, right? That was a trivial example. But, replace neglecting dirty dishes with a much more serious sin, and mercy should still triumph. For some reason, it appears to me that Christians expect to be merciful towards the sins of those out there.... in the world. We expect our believing family, though, to live perfectly. Otherwise, I have the right to respond with the cold shoulder, spewing disappointment, or flight. If "mercy triumphs over judgment," our family gets the benefit of the doubt every once in a while. And, practicing mercy in the midst of sin should BEGIN at home!
And, then there's social media.... where all grace, mercy, and KINDNESS is obsolete. I read some GREAT articles on Facebook every day. I follow some wonderful blogs written by people.... just living life, trying to do the best they can do, and confessing the need for help and support. But, to my dismay, I read articles and blog posts daily that do not have an OUNCE of mercy within them. These blogs are written by believers and cover a variety of different topics. But, the goal seems to be to tear down one person, one view, one "group" while elevating the author's perspective all in the name of "protecting Truth."
Combing the internet to find a single statement by an author or speaker that I disagree with and then tearing that author apart in a blog post for the world doesn't appear to me to be "mercy triumphing over judgment."
Does "mercy triumph over judgment" when we take subjects like discipline, modesty, parenting, etc. and point out all of the ways those around us don't measure up to our standards? Is it merciful to decide that our own preferences are THE standard by which all else is to be measured? Or, is that judgment?
I am NOT saying that we don't make decisions each and every day about how we will live out God's Word and what the Christian life in our homes will look like. We CAN and SHOULD decide those things for ourselves and our families. We can defend those decisions with our words to our children and other family members. When we hear teaching that appears false, it is NECESSARY to speak with our children and others in our realm of teaching about how and why we believe the Bible speaks against that particular teaching. Those we are IN relationship with are the ones we teach and disciple! Yes, speak TRUTH. Yes, speak out against what YOU believe to be inconsistent teaching. But, speak to people you KNOW about what you KNOW. Disciple "as you go" in the lives with whom you are on the go.
NOT via public service announcements!
Like I said, I've been very troubled about this for a while now. Facebook has turned into a battleground, and people from MY FAMILY (believers) are the ones I read 'stirring the pot,' speaking slander, and elevating fear. So, I began to comb the New Testament searching for Jesus among the people. I've been desperate to see how He dealt with others. Particularly in Matthew, Jesus speaks against WRONGS publicly. But, almost every time, He's speaking against Pharisees. If there was a way to make Christ's job on Earth more difficult, these "church people" were sure trying. Sad! Jesus came as "the way, the truth, and the life," and the Pharisees seemed to be livid that He was making it "too easy" for the wayward to get to Him... Mercy triumphing over judgment won't always be the popular way.
I don't know what the answer is. What I DO know is that the UNbelieving world around us must often look in and think, "Why would I want to join THEM? THEY are ALWAYS fighting about something!" If we, as believers, could fight FOR the things we KNOW TO BE TRUE and stop fighting AGAINST each other in trivial, maybe preferential, matters, I believe mercy WOULD triumph and LIGHT would dispel some darkness. Wouldn't THAT be awesome!