We asked several Christian leaders, “What should churches served by CHRISTIAN STANDARD strive to be or do or look like in the next decades?”
By Rachel Grindle
Churches should be places filled with people who love mercy—God’s mercy. Personally, I want all of God’s mercy I can get. I am grateful he doesn’t hold my sins against me and that he calls those who are far away to come near with his kindness and mercy. But when I realize that mercy is for everyone and not just me, I begin to realize, similar to Jonah, how much I actually prefer judgment to mercy, and so do many in the church.
We love justice and hate mercy. This is a strong statement, but true when we apply it to our enemies. That was Jonah’s problem. He wanted judgment for the Ninevites, and rightfully so. They were known for their wicked ways, and Jonah didn’t want to give them an opportunity to hear about God’s mercy because he knew they would respond, and in his mind, they didn’t deserve that.
The church, in all of her righteousness, can tend to be like Jonah; loving justice more than we love mercy when it comes to our enemies. Everything within us cries out for judgment against ISIS and Boko Haram, for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But that isn’t the way of Jesus, and it shouldn’t be the way of the church, not if we hope to move forward and impact people with the life-changing message of the gospel.
Because, if that message isn’t true for everyone, then it isn’t true for me. If God’s mercy isn’t available to everyone, then it isn’t available to me. The church needs to embrace our mandate to truly love our enemies and to pray they would turn from wickedness in repentance.
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12, 13).
Oh, that the church would hear these words and respond. It is judgment that waits for us if we cannot learn to be merciful. It is my hope the church would become known for mercy, mercy that is at the same time beautiful and offensive. Mercy that we individually receive from Jesus, but also mercy that is extended to people who are different from us, who have hurt us, who anger us and disappoint us. We, as the church, need to be known for mercy.
Rachel Grindle serves as senior director of Engage with Christ In Youth, Joplin, Missouri.