Thursday, December 29, 2011

Have Mercy

There is a time to lovingly speak truth, and there is a time to shut up and show mercy. Mercy and judgement have always been difficult for us Christians. We tend to fall into extremes. That's human nature. 
I've said for years that if I am to err, I should err on the side of mercy. The merciful will obtain mercy, and the measure in which you judge others will be the measure in which you will be judged. I'm not perfect. We all fall short. And whoever is without sin...go ahead...cast the first stone.
According to a recent study, the church is considered to be judgmental in general and to be hateful towards people who live alternative lifestyles. We Christians are called to live holy and righteous personal lives. We are also called to show love and respect to others. 
Yes, we sometimes need tough love and to also give that tough love to others, but we are not called to be others' holy spirit. There is one already that has the responsibility to guide and convict, and he does it much better than we can. 
Because we are loving and merciful, we desire to share life and truth with others, but we cannot and should not force our way onto others. God gives us free will. Who are we to not allow others that same free will? 
I try to live a holy life because I love and respect God and others around me. I try to show mercy to those who, like myself, fall short and struggle. And I think it is perfectly biblical to teach and advocate mercy, love, grace and forgiveness, just as it is biblical to teach about sin, repentance and hell. 
I'm a little bothered because of all the things I've read and heard over the past few months from Christians who have chosen to speak so much judgement and so little mercy. 
God is love, and with that love comes an element of holiness as well as mercy. In my years of life and ministry, I have found it is often much easier to try to make others be holy, and it is so much harder to live honestly and transparently and with mercy and forgiveness. 
Lately, I have found myself asking God what the Gospel was intended to be before we Christians got a hold of it and transformed it into what we have now. I desire to find that pure, unadulterated Good News that Jesus lived and taught. I pray that I can live out the great command to love God with everything in me and to love people as I love myself. 
The older I get, the more I realize I have to learn, the further I have to go. God, may you continue to increase in my life, and may my way and will continue to decrease...until everything I am resembles you.

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