A few good discussions have come up recently in a couple of different contexts, all revolving around the idea of mercy and grace for all.
First off, let me say everyone has a different calling, a different gift. Some people are very empathetic, compassionate, they are all about reflecting the mercy and grace of Christ. That’s awesome and wonderful, the body is composed of many parts. Mercy, compassion, those are wonderful gifts and much-needed in the world. We should all be reflecting that in some way, because forgiveness, grace, and redemption, are really the heart and soul of faith. If you’re going to err, it’s probably better to err on the side of grace.
Those who are really skilled at grace remind me of the little old lady who had a house of ill repute move into the neighborhood…… so she did the neighborly thing and baked them a pie. I love that story because in the process she built a relationship and began sharing her faith. “Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you.”
There are also some people like me who suffer from survivor’s guilt, or those who worry about loved ones who have passed on without ever knowing Jesus Christ. We often get lost in rabbit holes, chasing theology ’round and round, trying to reconcile the mercy of God with the judgment of God.
From experience I can tell you it really all just boils down to trust. We can make ourselves crazy trying to second guess God, trying to find a loophole, trying to make sure He knows what He’s doing. That’s what those fears and worries are all about, an unwillingness to trust in Him. Sometimes we have a hard time understanding that as much as we love people, He loves them even more. As much as we believe we know what should happen, He knows even better. As much as we care, God cares more. We can needlessly torment ourselves over what basically amounts to trust. It can be a real power struggle sometimes.
We say, “show me God and I’ll trust you,” and God says, “trust me and I’ll show you.” He will calm your fears, He will guide you to the answers you seek, if you trust in Him and let Him show you.
That’s what I know about mercy and grace, that’s a good part of who I am, a neighborhood pie lady who often argues theology with God Himself.
Where I live the Unitarian church is very popular, people who are all about mercy for all, so much grace, that grace is available to everyone and knowing Jesus Christ isn’t even necessary. Unitarians “welcome all persons who seek to deepen the life of the spirit.” I hear you, that’s all good, but what spirit are we speaking of here? Not all spirits are desirable! I wish to deepen the life of my spirit of envy for example. Greed? Lust? Gluttony? There’s a funny joke about being spiritual, as in “you’re going to need to be more specific about what “spiritual” means, because even demons can be spiritual.”
For some reason God has really dropped me on my head, taken me out of my element and started speaking to me much more loudly about judgment and justice, and about the dangers of moral relativism and moral ambiguity. I’ve become much less tolerant, more discerning, more rooted and unmoving within The Word. It’s really opened my eyes to some things, to the harm we can do under the guise of compassion, to the immorality that can spring forth from refusing to stand for anything.
It’s interesting, in this land of universalists, something that has always bugged me is people’s tendency to say things like, “it takes two to tango” or “we need to be fair to everyone.” While that may well be true in many situations, there is another part to the equation, too. Wrong is still wrong. Right is still right. We can commit an injustice when we try to treat all people as equals in any given situation.
Sometimes just flat-out wrong is just plain wrong and when we fail to stand up for that truth we do the whole world a real disservice. There can be no mercy without justice. One hinges upon the other.