Note: You will be tempted to read this, what I can only call a Jeremiad, with political glasses. Please do not. The only reason politics will even come up is because these subjects have been stolen from their actual ethical places of discussion. I have tried to be as non-partisan as possible, for I have no party. My agenda is completely about faith and this poor writing is just my own venting. If you are offended, please pay attention to the fact that I have not intended to be stumbling stone to you. I cannot speak to higher agendas in your life.
It started simply. I watched a movie, Hidden Figures, with my family. Well that wasn’t the start, but it is as good a place as any for me to begin. I was angry and hurt and the more I learned that the film was fairly accurate to the facts, the angrier I became. And I thought to myself, am I those people? Blind to racism and the oppressed? I only have one black friend, that seems racist. I could try to make some more, but that seems racist as well. I called my black friend who told me again how much energy it required to be angry all the time and reassured me somewhat by speaking and sharing with me as a friend.
A little later I went to the store to pick up some pencils. As I was walking in and older African-American man slurred out a greeting. He didn’t look entirely reputable, he looked like he had hard life. I spoke to him and he asked if I lived around here and could he get a ride to his house? I’ve become jaded in recent years so I didn’t immediately say yes like I would have at 20. I said I would get my pencils and then we would see.
On the way into the store I noticed the heat and thought about the age and apparent loneliness of the man. I bought my pencils and gave him a ride home. He told me that he had just bought one beer because that’s how much cash he had and he was going home to chill it, drink it and take a nap. We had a nice conversation and I dropped him off with a blessing which he returned. Restoration for me, a ride for him. Then this morning the Voice of the Wind got my attention.
I desire mercy not sacrifice.
Like a bell! Like a trumpet!
Repeating over and over, the words echoing in my head. I knew them before, but truth is an elusive fluttering bird of Spirit and things once remembered are sometimes lost in the thorny growth of experience and expectation. So many voices! So many excuses! So many people lost in expressions of other Gods: practicality, responsibility, patriotism, feasibility, safety. Our stone hearts, stopped halfway through the sanctifying metamorphosis to flesh that He promised would come, slow to the pathetic thud of the dying. We know the truth! We know, and we forget time and again.
God loves us. He came to us. He died for us. He said we would know Him as Truth and that Truth would set us free! He desires mercy because He is mercy and even still, we argue and fight about how to do exactly the right thing until the time for doing the right thing is long past.
How many souls have we lost to shadow as we argue over our petty differences in theology? Mercy is not selective, it knows none of us have the whole picture.
How many perish in poverty, physically or emotionally, while we endlessly debate the best way to care for them? Mercy is not selective, it doesn’t only serve the ‘worthy’ poor.
How many perish from disease and illness while we endlessly argue over which greed laden healthcare plan is better? Mercy is not selective, it doesn’t only serve the healthy and those who can afford good healthcare.
How many trans kids kill themselves while we endlessly drone on and on about “what God intended” and whether or not any of it makes sense? Mercy is not selective, it is interested in restoring hearts, not gender.
How many hearts are lost to the void while we bicker over bathrooms and marriage and who has the right to decide who gets what or whether or not sexuality is a choice? Mercy is not selective, it doesn’t care if you were born that way or not.
How many women and children are ruined or destroyed in the mad pursuit of lost intimacy while we argue over whether or not abortion is a woman’s right or the killing of a baby. Mercy is not selective, it loves mother and child equally, both born and unborn.
I wonder sometimes if all the talking and moralizing makes us feel like we have accomplished something so we can ignore the Voice in the night.
This is my story, this is my song! I will praise my Savior and serve Him as He has led us.
Mercy, not sacrifice. Love and rescue and restoration, not merely the cycle of sin and repentance. God does not keep score!
The very notion of a God who sits on His throne keeping track of our behavior like some sordid video game player flies in the very face of the crucifixion. There is no score, there is no game. There is only the cross and the Master who looks at us and says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this part. Follow me.” Then He proceeds to show us what it means to love and how that love is about lifting people up and protecting them when the rocks begin to fly. That love is about healing and truth and is never about shame and recrimination.
Mercy. When did we forget how to love people? When did they become our enemies? When did the struggle become against flesh and blood instead of darkness in the spiritual places?
We must recover our lost heart. Some folks are gonna argue that I think righteousness is unnecessary or that God ‘winks at sin.’ Those people either aren’t listening or have an agenda.
I have an agenda, and here it is.
Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.-I John 4:8-
I have no other foundation. I have no other ethic. We say we follow Jesus, Jesus taught love. He Himself quoted the words of Hosea, in Matthew 9. We must recover our lost heart. Love people, then reach out to help those you are around everyday. Give an old stranger a ride home, don’t worry about the beer. It’s a start.