Mercy and Action
Many people today seem to believe that evidence of true biblical faith is founded in “sound doctrine,” while doctrine and theology are certainly important and dictate to us and give us motivation for our actions…it is far from the determining factor for whether someone is counted among the saints. Now certainly poor theology will lead to poor living so I am not undermining the importance of theology here. What I am saying is that proper doctrine with inaction (not necessarily poor action but inaction) is just as worthless, dangerous, and sinful as poor actions. Christianity is a faith of action…to be Christian is to be a person of action, not a person of stagnicity and laziness. Christ himself was a person of action a person dedicated to the redemption of humanity and to reconciliation with his enemy (that being us). It is interesting then when Christians believe that inaction is an appropriate response to the cross…sure they believe in Christ they may even have changed their lifestyles quitting certain bad habits, ceasing in sin but is this enough? Did Jesus die on a cross so that we would “behave” ourselves or did he die for something more? Did he die so that we could go to heaven, yes, but is there more?
This has been a question upon my heart and mind as of late. As I look at my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, I have tried to determine what it means to be Christian. Not just in a theological sense but in a practical sense. Is Christianity meant to “look” like something? I think the simple answer to that question (and most people would agree) is a resounding yes. The true question at hand then is…what is it meant to look like? This is where Christians begin to disagree with one another. To some it is about separation from the world creating an us versus them mentality and seeing those lost in sin as the enemy. Then you have those who want to integrate world cultures and society into Christian faith so completely that Christian faith becomes indistinguishable from the world at all. Then there are those who in agreement with this premise do everything to live morally but when it comes to their faith being put into action in service of others it is revealed that their faith is hollow.
The reality is that none of these is appropriate. Seeing the lost as the enemy is to condemn one’s self in the face of Christ for we were once lost and now are found so who is to say that we may be shunning a future brother or sister in the faith? Moreover, what about looking like the world, Jesus tells us that the world will hate us just as it hated him (Matthew 10:22). If we endear ourselves to society and culture, are we not in a sense disowning Christ? Lastly, moral behavior is no indication of salvific faith. If it did not work for the Pharisees it will not work for us. So what DOES Christian faith look like? A Christian life is one guided by two things the Spirit of God first and the Scriptures second. Neither will be in disagreement with the other, so to think the Spirit is telling you one thing while the Scriptures clearly say another is to deceive yourself. A life led like this will manifest certain qualities in a person of which one of the most important is that of mercy. See Christian living calls us to do what is hard…what takes guts…what takes sacrifice.
Mercy is one of those hard things. Mercy calls us to grace, love, and forgiveness it leads us to do this not only with people that we care deeply for…but also for strangers and especially for our enemies. If there is one indication that the Spirit is active within your life…it is when you begin to actively display mercy to everyone even when it looks completely insane. This is a rarity however as mercy is something that all of us like receiving but hate giving. There are few feelings in the world as good as when someone has bestowed mercy upon you and there are few things harder to do than display mercy to someone you revile and disdain with all of your being. Yet, regardless of the recipient we are still to give it out freely. You cannot earn mercy, it is something given freely. We have not earned mercy from God but were given it in His Son. Mercy does not come free and God’s sacrifice of his firstborn is the perfect reminder of this reality. So if being merciful cost God that much then who are we to refuse His mercy? Nevertheless, even more than that, who are we to withhold mercy from those who have wronged us? Have we been wronged more than God has? I do not think so, in fact we are told as much by Christ when he says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7). This is a powerful statement and one we would do well to remember. The mercy that we receive will make us merciful, if we are not merciful than we are not in God’s mercy, kind of a scary thought.
So let us bring this full circle, in the beginning of this diatribe I began by explaining that Christians are a people of action. This is what Christ has died for not so we can go to heaven (at least not that alone) but to establish a Kingdom on this earth that began its invasion in Christ’s coming and solidified its presence in His death and resurrection. We are the representatives the messengers the witnesses of the Kingdom who have been charged to spread the news of this Kingdom and its coming. We are called to stand for the oppressed, comfort the depressed and those in misery, and be merciful to those who do not deserve it just as we were shown mercy. Action doing something that is the indicator of true Christian faith not church attendance or activity in church events but in your service to those in misery and in need out there in the world. Therefore, I challenge everyone who reads this everyone who is so active in their church community that they have no time to be outside of it to step outside of that church bubble and begin to impact the people who we are called to love and serve. The homeless person on the street, the prisoner in jail, the abused woman in a domestic violence shelter, the drug addict, the prostitute, the stripper, the pimp, the gang-banger all of these people need Jesus. So let us all together step outside of the institution that is “church” and start being the Church the Christ gave His life for. God bless and thank you for reading.