Friday, February 28, 2014

Have Mercy

I'm at the tail end of a cold this week.  The part of the cold that, in my body, lasts forever.  Coughing, gasping desperately to get oxygen deep into my lungs (reactive airway disease, I've been told) -- just flat out exhausting.

So, it was dumb of me to repost an article on my Facebook page that I knew would be controversial -- I even specifically asked my friends who disagreed to comment.  What was I thinking?  I didn't have the physical, mental, or emotional wherewithal to deal with any of that right now. I ended up getting snitty with everyone and being disappointed in myself for doing so. I was just so frustrated and angry.  But those emotions were my cold talking.

In actuality, I'm just sad.  So terribly, terribly sad.

Our world is SO broken. Our country is so broken.  The church is so broken. There are people starving in this world -- thousands of them -- and in America we are dying of diseases that are direct results of obesity, eating too much food.  Lord, have mercy on us.

Human trafficking flourishes all over the globe, even in our own nation, right under our noses, and we ignore it all, numbing ourselves to the value of human life while giggling over stupid people on reality TV and obsessing about the daily doings of celebrities.  Lord Jesus, have mercy on us.

Paul asked the Philippians church to make his joy complete by "being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."  The church? Like-minded? Good heavens.

Jesus said people would know we were his disciples when they saw the way we love. The church grew exponentially in its first few centuries even as Christians were being brutally martyred because people noted, "Look how they love!" Because they treated the pagans better than other pagans did. Because they suffered and died well. We aren't like that anymore.  I'm not like that. We don't even love each other well.  Heck, we don't even love our families well.  Forget about gay marriage and all that . . . over half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce these days. And the last statistics I heard were that the divorce rate for Christians is even HIGHER than the average.  Forget loving the world -- we can't even bring ourselves to sacrificially love our spouses.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!

There are days (like today, and yesterday . . . ) when I wonder why in the world God puts up with us at all.  How can he stand us? I can't imagine why he doesn't look down on our selfish, rebellious, sinful little selves and say, "Okay, that's quite enough, people. End of story." Go all Noah on us. Get it over with.  Because honestly, folks, these days, nothing sounds more inviting than that new body in a new heaven and new earth where "there shall be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain, because the former things are passed away."  Amen, I say with John.  Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Yes, I know this is my cold talking, too.  If I felt better, I  wouldn't be so focused on the bad things in the world and would see the good things that are happening out there. I realize God doesn't want us to sit around wallowing -- joy is a fruit of the Spirit, after all. But the Spirit also convicts . . . deepens our sorrow over sin . . . leads us to repentence.  I think a bit of sorrow over the state of our world is warranted.

As long as we respond to that sorrow appropriately. With action. With self-examination. With a sincere falling to our knees -- or even on our faces.  Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on your world . . . have mercy on your church . . . have mercy on me.

And that's why I keep making myself post those controversial articles and ask for conversations. Because as distressing as the conversations are sometimes, they need to happen. Because as much as they make me want to crawl back into my safe, little evangelical cocoon and never face the world again, they ultimately drive me to my knees . . . where I should have been all along.

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