Moral Police vs. Mercy

Three days ago I condemned abortion as murder when I wrote about the abortion “doctor” who was convicted of killing babies born alive.  Today I am googling “foods that help women heal after an abortion” because I am making dinner for a new friend who is in the gut-wrenching place of trying to recover, physically and emotionally, after micha 6terminating her pregnancy.

What may appear as a contradiction is actually the call of every Christian.  We must simultaneously proclaim God’s truth and administer mercy, or we are failing to live the true gospel.

Christians cannot shirk from speaking the truth of God, especially to those with whom we are in close relationship.  We must gently and respectfully communicate God’s standards.  For someone who leans a little more to the grace-giving side of life, this sometimes makes me uncomfortable.  I can lose sleep in anticipation of a conversation with a Sister in Christ who is heading in a direction that goes against God’s ideals.  And I am not alone in that struggle.  Entire denominations have chosen to sidestep some of the most difficult scriptural teachings because illuminating ungodly thinking and behavior can seem unloving.  However, if we allow cultural trends to dilute our doctrine we cease to be God’s light to a world in need.  A world that hungers for a truth outside of itself.  “Acceptance” without God’s ethics quickly degenerates into permissiveness, and we begin to look a lot like the lukewarm church in Revelation that God spits out.

But we also must be a fount of mercy for those who have fallen short of God’s glory.  God directs us to bear one another’s burdens and mourn with those who mourn because He seeks to use us as conduits to pour out His grace and forgiveness on one another.  We have to be the tangible proof of His love to a hurting world.  We pursue and engage the broken because that was Christ’s mission, and we are to go and do likewise.  If we simply spout truth without compassion, we have become Pharisees and risk being shaken off like dust from Christ’s sandals.  Without mercy, we are simply moral police handing out citations to hurting people.

God could choose to instantly cleanse us of our sorrow and guilt without the church, but for some reason He often uses His people to dispense His mercy.  Perhaps it is because God wants to foster an environment of interdependence among His people in the process of offering His healing and restoration.

I need mercy.  I need it from my children and my husband and my friends when I shamefully confess my ugly thoughts and actions to them.  When they show me mercy, I feel closer to them and closer to God.

Christian friend, how are you viewed by outsiders- or insiders for that matter?  If someone has failed or is in a desperate situation, what will they encounter when they reveal their heartache to you?  Are you a big talker who is light on sacrificial action? Will they find a heart of stone and haughty eyes?  They already know what you think, will you surprise them by offering them God’s unrelenting grace?

Or are you struggling to find your voice within a situation that clearly transgresses God’s standards?  In the name of being “loving” have you forgotten that “love rejoices with the truth”?  Will you pray that God gives you uncompromising words seasoned with salt as you continue to walk by your friend’s side?

As far as the message of God’s truth reaches, our willingness to extend mercy must go that far as well.  And maybe even an inch further.

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17 thoughts on “Moral Police vs. Mercy

  1. Ask me,

    I’m curious what a conversation with someone looks like that stresses God’s truth but doesn’t condemn. In other words, shows mercy. Ideas about sentence openers, better words, etc.

    I’m also curious if at dinner tonight you think it will be necessary to express God’s truth in your opinion about abortion or whether it will just be a night for showing love, compassion and having fellowship with your friend.

    I’m not trying to be confrontational. I’m truly curious what a good example is of someone putting this into practice, or how you see this blog post put into practice on a more personal level.

    Nice post, btw.

    • No, really good questions Cindy. She approached my husband about her very difficult situation a few weeks back. At the time he tried to offer help, suggestions and others to encourage her but she fled. Since then I have been trying to connect with her. We actually had our first conversation a couple days ago and it didn’t involve me introducing any concepts on abortion at all. She is overwhelmed with sadness and guilt and all she needs to hear from me is mercy and forgiveness. There may not be a conversation at all tonight, just dinner left on the porch with the note “you are not alone” attached. If you are willing, please pray that she would allow me and some of my authentic and merciful girlfriends to minister to her.

    • Oh, and in regards to “sentence openers” my course of action is usually to pray for courage and say “Dear God please don’t let me mess this up.

  2. I’m not sure if this is because I lean more toward mercy and less toward “you’re sinning”. Even when I react in anger (which I did the other day and am kicking myself about), my words usually speak more of hurt than of condemnation. As someone who grew up with oft-criticizing parents, I REALLY don’t much like it….getting it or giving it 🙂 So perhaps that colors my Christ-talk with others more than I know. However, in situations where mercy AND truth are both needed, I usually let the other person lead the truth part. I don’t make a secret of being a Christian and at some point they either directly ask me if I think they sinned or they indirectly ask, usually in the form of “I know you must think I’m a sinner”. That’s the point at which I feel strong in sharing His truth and His mercy…..when they are delivered together. You can be sharing a moment of real Christ-like mercy and then it’s ruined because you feel you “have to” make sure they get the message that their actions are sinful. And the “sinner” part is what stays in their memory. I’ve had people come back to me and say “You were the only one that didn’t condemn me…..you listened and you didn’t judge.” Even though I think others had sincerely shown Christ’s mercy, it just got stuck behind the “sinner” part in the mind of someone already sensitive to that word. But when they are the ones that bring it up, I think they are expecting harsh but when they get loving, it leaves a positive feeling for them. I’m having a hard time expressing it, but it boils down to “Christ, tell me the right time and show me the right place to share Your love and Your truth, because if I forget to let You lead me, I’m gonna mess it up”.

  3. Thank you for the blog ~ very insightful and well-stated ~ and thank you, too, Trisha for your thoughtful, helpful comment. Both are very much appreciated. Blessings!

  4. Ask Me,
    Thanks for another wonderful post! I would venture to guess that once your friend feels the compassionate spirit you have , she will embrace the truth and forgiveness that God can give.

    • I hope so, Yolanda. I hardly know her, but my thoughts are continually drawn to her. She is like me- she needs God and His people.

  5. Askme Just a quick note to let you know I’ve been thinking of you and your new friend. Praying for you both…..how’s it going?

    • It’s gonna be a slow go, I think. But we will take all your prayers. Especially pray that she is able to see that God is seeking her and cherishing her in her brokenness. Thanks friend.

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