Are We Merciful People?
One would think at my age (which I refuse to reveal) I would not be surprised or shocked any more at what people do and say. Yet, I find myself speechless at what people will say and how they will act. And the people who surprise me the most? Christians. Or at least they claim to be Christians.
There are some sinners who behave better than many Christians I know. I have worked as a Church Business Administrator for nineteen years and with other positions I’ve held I have worked for Christians. I currently work for a nonprofit organization that is based on Biblical principles. So for the majority of my career, I’ve worked for and with Christians. The longer I work with Christians, the more hypocritical I find us to be. And yes, I said “us.”
There’s a saying that states “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” But does knowing we are forgiven for past sins and that God will forgive us now when we ask for forgiveness give us the right to judge others? The Bible says in Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. 2 For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” (Amplified Bible)
Rather than judging and criticizing and condemning others, shouldn’t we offer mercy and grace instead?
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines mercy as “kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly; kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation.”
God is a God of mercy. We read this in scripture over and over again. If God is a God of mercy, then we, who want to grow more like Jesus, should be people of mercy. And as the people of mercy gather as one within the four walls of what we call “church,” it is, or should be, a place of mercy.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom(V) prepared for you since the creation of the world.(W) 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,(X) 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,(Y) I was sick and you looked after me,(Z) I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:34-56 NIV)
Those are strong words Jesus spoke to his disciples.
So how can we, as merciful people, turn anyone away from the four walls of what we call the church? What if a homeless person, dirty, smelly, and hungry came to the church on Sunday morning just as service was about to begin? Would he or she be turned away? Or an alcoholic, who went on a binge the night before, staggers into the sanctuary after service has started? Would the ushers help him leave? Or a prostitute, still in her “working” clothes? Would she be shunned and turned away?
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:45)