“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mercy Has Not Triumphed

America is, in my opinion, a very religious nation. The problem is, our religions are anger and blame. We are a nation so eaten up with anger due to fault finding, we have forgotten what it is to have mercy or to forgive. Calling us a Christian nation without those two factors in play is laughable—it is also a lie. And, I think we Christians actually created the problem.

The church has been fervently praying for righteousness and justice to be established in the land. And, in fact, they have—just not the way we expected. You see, without the Spirit of God, all righteousness and justice do is find fault and apply punishment. Judgment and righteousness, of themselves, are not kind or compassionate.

Righteousness, without the Spirit of God, only finds fault, not solutions. And, we as a nation are VERY good at finding fault. Just look through the political ads and it is patently obvious we are not listening to each other—just picking the other guys statements apart and remembering everyone of their failures.

Justice, without the Spirit of God, only blames and seeks to punish. One look at the mountain of litigations in our court system will tell you we are VERY good at blaming and seeking punishment, Even the two main political parties just point fingers and say, “Yeah, but look what you did!”

Justice and righteousness, without the Spirit of God, are only interested in the keeping of the rules. It has now reached the point where no one can back down on anything. Backing down implies failure, which also makes room for shame and blame from others.. And, simply put, I think we fear the stigma of shame. And, shame is the result of judgment without love.

And, we the church, created the problem. We made serving God all about proper behavior and keeping rules. It was supposed to be about doing and being because we love and enjoy God. I don’t love my wife by keeping rules. I keep rules because I love my wife. If all we are going to do is find fault and apply punishment, no one is going to recognize love. We will be too busy finding fault.

Now, I am not suggesting that evil should go unpunished. But, Biblically speaking, the point of punishment is not the destruction of the offending party. It is restoration. Unfortunately, over the centuries since Constantine, large portions of the church have been on a quest for power, control and recognition. Power control and recognition are built by shaming and blaming others. It’s no wonder so many see the church as evil. We have learned the lessons of the world—how to build walls and divide through shame and accusation. We, the church, are no better than American politicians. We merely point fingers and say, “Yeah, but look what you did.” The difference? We don’t just leave it with “You’re second rate.” We go even farther and say “You are unworthy.”

We have forgotten some of the most important words from The Bible:

”I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
If we Christians want to see a difference, we need to pray for mercy, and forgiveness—as well as righteousness and judgment. And, if we are going to pray for that, then we will get it. After all, we received the righteousness and justice we asked for didn’t we?

So, guess what? I think any change is up to us. Are we going to be so focused on fault and punishment that we forget mercy and forgiveness? Or, will we choose to lay down our “God given rights” for the sake of others?


(...stay tuned for more on this subject...)