Mercy or justice? Both! Mercy and justice are not only inseparable but fully dependent upon one another. Look at God’s impartiality. It’s clean. We can see His integrity ONLY when we connect what He did in biblical times to what we know about His motives and plan. Simply stated, God’s justice is restorative. It not only provides consequences for wrong actions, but teaches the wrongdoer how to become righteous. Watch this short vlog and then listen to the full podcast of the same name.
Loving your enemies is to want good and not harm to come to them. Jesus mapped this out for us, especially in the last days of his life before his crucifixion. Jesus not only taught us in detail how to love our enemies, he showed us in living color how to profoundly care for them. He literally "walked the walk" – all the way to Calvary. As we look back upon the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will see how he was the instruction manual for loving your enemies. How did Jesus show devotion to those who were devious and hostile, attachment to those who antagonized him and affection for those who became his adversaries? For an in depth bible study listen to our inspiring podcast of the same name.
In today's digital world, there are "internet trolls" that can insult, hurt and make fun of us anonymously. And the real world is hard enough! Is the teaching of Jesus to "turn the other cheek" still as relevant and powerful as it was centuries ago?
We all do wrong. We all hurt other people. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is the result of oversight, ignorance or immaturity, or careless words and actions or sloppy and selfish thinking. We hurt someone, but we don’t really mean it. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is a result of anger or vengeance or jealousy and we absolutely mean to create havoc and turmoil. Either way we do hurt others and we therefore do need forgiveness. So how do we receive forgiveness from others and especially from God? What do we have to do or say or think for forgiveness to take hold? How can we truly know that we are forgiven? Is forgiveness really worth the effort?
We live in a time of great contradiction. There are voices that shout, rant and insist for all in our society to embrace and accept everyone no matter what their choices in life are and no matter what their actions in life may be. Their message in many ways is framed as one of love – love for those who are opposite, love for those who are different. Then there are those like myself who say that while I am willing to accept and love people regardless of their choices, I will not embrace anything I believe is not moral or righteous. I will love the person but not the action. For this I have been called a "hater" by those who preach that you should embrace those who are different than you. Jesus told us to love our enemies, but what exactly does that mean? Am I not loving enough? Do I need to change?
We all know that Jesus taught us to forgive. If your brother trespasses against you seven times in a day, Jesus says to forgive. Okay, while this may be difficult, we can see its value and strive to live up to that standard. But, but what about when someone commits a horrible crime – what about when someone guns down in cold blood, innocent God fearing people in church – at a Bible study? Is the same lesson of forgiveness relevant? Do the teachings of Jesus include forgiving those who are simply and purely evil in their actions?
Sometimes in the overwhelming flow of life we can forget the simplest things. We get so caught up in a “me first” – and sometimes a “me only” mentality - that it never even crosses our minds to stop and consider some of the most basic and healing attributes available to humankind – kindness and mercy. What is mercy? How does it work? If we were to apply mercy on a regular basis, would it change our world and more importantly, could it change the way we see our world?
Everyone hurts someone at some point in their lives, whether it is intentional or not. Many of us carry the scars of past disappointments, broken trust, or just plain tragedy with us for our entire lives. Even though we know what forgiveness is, sometimes it seems too hard to truly exercise it because it seems that if we forgive, then we are somehow letting the other party off the hook. Is this true? Stay with us as we look into what forgiveness is and what it is not and try and get our arms around one of the greatest earthly powers that God ever gave us!