Note: I suppose you could say this is a follow up post to my previous one entitled “My Son Is Black.” If you haven’t read that, I’d encourage you to go read it.
I shouldn’t read the comment section on news articles. But some times I do. And what I’ve come across lately under articles (or just on Facebook) surrounding the Ferguson situation, Tamir Rice’s story or the Eric Garner incident is quite chilling, to say the least.
Statements like: “he got what he deserved” are quite prevalent and really make my heart sink and my gut turn into knots.
Do we really realize what we’re saying? Human beings died.
Maybe they were guilty of crimes. Maybe those individuals were in the wrong. But that is why we have a legal system that is supposed to justly try and determine if they’re guilty of punishment. You know, the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing.
Being killed on the spot is not how the system has been set up to operate. Whether the cops in the above mentioned scenarios were in the right or wrong is not up to me. Hopefully they were handled properly by the same system we have in place.
What I’m really upset about, and what really makes my blood boil, is when it turns out that Christians are the ones stating “he got what he deserved.”
Apparently, we don’t really understand what Jesus has done for us.
You see, I deserved hell.
I hadn’t necessarily committed an earthly crime deserving of an earthly punishment. I committed the worst offense of all: I sinned against God.
The weight of that reality is heavy. Just thinking about the fact that I deserved to be punished for my sin is daunting. Because my sins were many.
Jesus came and pursued me… and you. Not because we deserved it. Not because we did enough to get His attention. There’s no other reason other than the fact that God was merciful.
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” – Micah 7:18 NIV
God DELIGHTS to show mercy. Yet the way His people talk some times, you’d think He doesn’t.
Because of God’s infinite mercy He sent Jesus to take my place, to take my punishment. Jesus took what I deserved by willingly laying down His life on the cross.
I deserved punishment but Jesus took it.
So when I hear someone say “he got what he deserved,” my heart breaks. I don’t think that person gets mercy.
Am I saying we should throw out all punishment? And not have laws? And not have law enforcement? Absolutely not. But what I am saying is that we really, really should check ourselves, especially what we say, and see if it lines up with the Gospel. Is our cry for earthly “justice” trumping eternal mercy?
You see, before being an American, I’m a Christian.
Before being a registered member of the Republican party, I’m a follower of Christ.
Before being a white man, I’m a child of God.
Regardless of what earthly label I apply to my life, I am a Christian. And that reality must trump every other thought or feeling or emotion I find myself having.
The fact that I was given mercy, when I deserved judgment, should permeate every philosophy or mindset that’s within me.
Yes, God is just. There will come a day when He judges and unfortunately there will be people who will receive punishment.
However, right now, as followers of Christ, we are called to show mercy. It’s a matter of attitude and what we say.
“So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” – James 2:12-13 NLT
If I have freely received [mercy], how can I not freely give it?
Photo credit: Photo found here.