A recent Barna study revealed that only 17% of Christians believe it’s their job to show mercy. Most thought the work should fall to churches, nonprofits, and government programs. Has the church over-indexed on truth at the expense of biblical mercy? I believe it has, and here’s why that’s a problem.
The unique thing about the Christian faith is that Truth arrived on this earth 2,000 plus years ago.
Truth’s Name is Jesus.
He is our Hope: for rescue from our sins, selfishness, addictions, and sorrow. He is alive today and is perfectly patient. He continues to love and pursue the lost and enemies.
Ideology on the other hand is not a person, is not kind, patient, or endearing. Jesus warned about ideologues…He called them Pharisees.
They loved the idea of truth but hated the Truth, the person of Jesus. Jesus had strong words for them, calling them ”sons of snakes” and accusing them of putting people in bondage to religion in Matthew 23:33.
Today, when people shout “lock her up” or “drain the swamp,” we need to challenge whether they are clinging to an ideology or what they believe is truth, rather than Truth Himself.
In Psalm 2, we see Truth’s response to a conspiracy of evil when, “the kings of the earth and the rulers take counsel against the Lord and His anointed One.”
The response from the One who set billions of stars in their orbits? “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” This is not a mean laugh but rather a response to folly. He then comes to earth to give His life for such fools…me and you.
A recent article is helpful in drawing a distinction between ideologues and people who hold a “principled position”.
Ideologues are inflexible and unable to engage in open dialogue, while those of a principled position have an open mind and a respect for others that enables them to participate in conversation with people who may see something differently.
Now, just imagine a third way: The way of mercy.
This way opens both the mind and the heart to those who look or believe differently than us.
Jesus engaged the mind and heart. His truth brought hope; His mercy brought healing. He walked through Samaria, the place of racial and ethnic tension. He visited the synagogues, reaching those like Nicodemus who would open their heart to Him. He went to a murderer, Saul of Tarsus, who was killing His choice servants and pleaded with him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4).
How do we present our beliefs and convictions?
Psalm 25:10 says, “all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth…” We can bring hope and healing to broken people. Our ideology can’t. Our principled positions can’t. Only the mercy of Jesus and the Spirit of Truth within us can.
If you’d like to learn a 4-part framework for demonstrating God’s mercy, consider picking up a copy of my new book The God Impulse: The Power of Mercy in an Unmerciful World.