This past year, I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the elements of Christianity. This post serves as a place for me to share one of the simple yet beautiful truths of the faith I hold. It’s simple yet confounding — wise, yet folly to hearts of men. And while there are one hundred other vital aspects of Christianity I could write about (and probably will at some point), today I chose to focus on this one thing.
Simply put, mercy can be defined as “not receiving what we deserve.” The cross of Christ becomes even more powerful when we remember that God is not only a God of mercy, but of justice and of love. When we chose – and often still do choose – to disobey Him, God showed us mercy by taking away the punishment we deserve. And why do we deserve such punishment? Because God is the only perfect being in existence. He is holy. And to not be holy (the basic condition of humanity which we brought upon ourselves at The Fall) is to be unworthy of even being able to stand in His sight. Yet God did not just take our punishment away. Because of His righteous justice, He knew someone had to pay the price of our sin, and because of love, He sent His Son.
Some great human minds, such as Karl Marx, have described religion as more or less the “opium of the people” (or some form of the idea). In doing so, they assert that religion exists to simply give a type of false, complacent hope to those lacking material and strategical happiness on earth.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In the exact opposite nature of opium, Christianity reminds us of our depravity (Psalms 53:3, Romans 3:23). We disobeyed God’s perfect plan for the world, and brought death to creation. We bought into a lie and with it, eternally separated ourselves from God. In that moment, darkness was allowed to reign in the world.
The Bible teaches a story of a fallen world and perfect redemption through a Savior who took death upon Himself. Our precious veritas — the very God whom we chose to disobey and mar the name of chose to reconcile us back to Him by dying a brutal death and rising again (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Mercy is one of the reasons Christians choose to live a life of separation from the ways of the world and to surrender to Christ. How could we not? Our Christ chose to bear our sins and redeem us – not so that we could choose to thank Him and continue living a life of sin and darkness, but so that we could grasp the depths of God’s love, to live in relationship with Him, and be “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-10).
Sharing the mercy of Christ is not telling the oppressed that they can have hope in an illusory ideology. Rather, it is reminding each person that there is a plan which transcends the world – a plan that we can only fulfill with Christ. To be a Christian is to recognize the gift we have in being partakers of His righteous kingdom, and the joy of sharing this beauty with others (Hebrews 9:12-15). To be a Christian is to show mercy to others, just as Christ has shown mercy to us (James 2:13). No person, no government, no power, and no economy will ever bring about a utopia on earth. None of these could compare to the Love of Christ.
“Now here inside of our skin and bones
Heaven above is making its home
The Kingdom of God living upon the world.
To love like He loves and give like He gives
To tell the story that makes dead men live…
That’s what it takes if we’re gonna change the world.
[His] love is a song and it sings over me…
This is mercy. The heartbeat of living.
Song credits: Phil Wickham, “Mercy”