There is a word that can tame the very bowels of hell. It is a word that manifested so greatly in the Son of God, that even demons need muscle relaxers to stop the shaking in their knees. It is a word that the devil himself cannot use, for it has become foreign to him. It is a word that triumphs over any and all wrath, though not in the usual way that one would think it does. This word is Mercy.
Two things that shake the throne of skulls that the devil sits upon are Humility and Mercy (though I would argue mercy is humble intrinsically), so the king here is mercy.
A cruel king can be merciful. Mercy is what we all hope for in one with authority. Though they can use power in a way that can causes pain, we almost expect them to show mercy. I have to ask “why?”
We expect this even though throughout history humans have been known to punish, and punish we have. Even now… we punish. And most often we have forgotten what mercy truly means. It is more than leniency; it is the quiet sister of divine love, being emitted from the very nature of God himself.
I have dealt with a irritating void over time, and admittedly, I have misunderstood its nature. I thought that somewhere in my soul I thirsted for wrath on evil. The thoughts would be like “Oh the satisfaction that would be felt by having Lex Talionis (an eye for an eye in Latin) as a feast!” Or is it so? Rather, is it the soul wanting to be at peace and serenity with the person that scarred it? For who wants to hate arbitrarily? This kind of hole is even worse when it feels like God cannot possibly win the heart of the offender… let alone the offended.
For even if God can use purely gentle means in his corrections… why then does it feel like we want something tougher sometimes? Maybe not to the point of utterly destroying an enemy, but something a bit more gritty?
I feel it comes from a misunderstanding of what mercy is. It isn’t leniency, nor is it clemency — it is essentially the way God corrects every heart that walks across his gaze. It is in the gaze of his eyes, as they pierce into your soul, and in that moment, you feel the one who always knew you. Thread by thread; beam by beam, being familiar with your total makeup.
We are used to believing in gods being cruel, capricious, and by the book — yet capable of mercy. What is so radical to understand about Jesus is he IS MERCY, yet he can correct. He is only mercy, and it is his mercy that is his justice, and this justice is TRUE JUSTICE.
Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity, and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage? He doesn’t retain his anger forever, because he delights in loving kindness.Mich 7:18, WEB
Before I came to understand this the way I do now. I was terribly frustrated. My inner dilemma was “How can you break the will of the disobedient if you don’t punish?” Man… little did I know how the mercy from someone who is love to his core could be a “punishment” in its own right.
With Christ, mercy’s power comes not only from the person appreciating it in lieu of any colder alternative, it also comes from being in the presence of Christ’s truth. Where there is no place for our mistakes and misgivings to abide in comfort, in the light of his nature. There… in that place, mercy’s corrective power takes hold.
You know how all people have had events they don’t want to talk about? But you can see that it is killing them inside? Even if it is slowly? You don’t get that same respect before the throne of God.
For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12, WEB
Mercy and truth respects the face of God within a person. It does not respect the Halloween masks and the blinders we don so we can avoid the uncomfortable reality of things we have done, or things that have been done to us.
Mercy isn’t tolerance. Mercy isn’t being the dove in the midst of evil. Mercy is willing the good towards another person to bring them to a state of wholeness, even if the means are not comfortable.
Take for example someone who has substance abuse issues. Suppose the person has lost his family, home, wife and kids, and even his beautiful smile that he used to have just three years ago [Disclaimer: this is a hypothetical person, and it is not based on anyone I know.] And say you meet this person and you become familiar with his story.
You have three options in how you can treat him,
- You can just be there in his life as a friend,
- You can beat him up for how much of a loser he is,
- OR… you could do everything in your power to make his heart burn in conviction to spur him to get help, also being willing to help him get there.
Which of these sounds the most like Christ? Which wills and desires the good for the person the most? I’ll let you decide.
Most people would carry out the first. A few would do the second because they are just as messed up as the poor man, if not more. And even fewer would do the third… at least correctly.
To do the third you have to do something crazy — you have to suffer with them. You have to get a deep understanding of their pain, and know how to box against the demons that they will attack you with. For who wants to leave the comfort of a familiar darkness? The light makes the eyes of the soul sensitive.
In the great day of the Lord, or when someone meets him on the other side. If Christ and all the meanings that fill his presence can be known and understood… would that light not feel like hell-fire? Even though it is to be a merciful correction to the person?
I don’t believe that this is necessary for God, yet I would go so far to say that even IF God had to use wise fire from his light to incorruptibly burn someone if it was necessary for them to change for the better (by breaking their will or stubborn heart) — even then I would still think that is a better fate than being in their darkness forever. For how can the riches of heaven be shown to a person if their sickness motivates them to destroy them? Even if it is unintentional?
That being said… standing in the convicting presence of the merciful king for a moment of eternity is better than staying in the embrace of darkness for ALL eternity in my eyes.
God always goes for option three. He has the means, the will, and the nature to cure the most twisted soul. Even greater to me, he suffers with the very person he is helping. That is how he can use the scalpel of his light so gently, and precisely.
For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15, WEB
God “judges” through mercy. God “punishes” through healing. And his wisdom and truth are felt as a cauterization to the sore parts of our heart. I can only imagine how intense it may be for someone who stood in ignorance all of their life to wisdom, and upon death stands before the Father, the Son, and Wisdom herself. That person shall cry out “MERCY!” Even if he doesn’t know exactly why he is.
Thanks be to the only living God — that person shall have exactly that. For in crying out “MERCY” to the One who is Mercy — he has repented. We all shall meet Mercy, and we all shall receive it. For the name of the one who is mercy is Jesus.
In his mercy we can see just how far we have fallen, or have run from the heart of goodness. How our actions have set us farther away than the furthest galaxies from our original self in him. This contrast and distance can be known even when we are face to face in front of Christ.
George MacDonald said it perfectly,
I believe that justice and mercy are simply one and the same thing; without justice to the full there can be no mercy, and without mercy to the full there can be no justice; that such is the mercy of God that he will hold his children in the consuming fire of his distance until they pay the uttermost farthing, until they drop the purse of selfishness with all the dross that is in it, and rush home to the Father and the Son, and the many brethren–rush inside the center of the life-giving fire whose outer circles burn. I believe that no hell will be lacking which would help the just mercy of God to redeem his children.George MacDonald, Justice
A mercy that is just. A justice that is merciful. It has a name, and it has a heart. Jesus, the Lord of Glory. I am glad to know him.
Thank you for your time, and for reading.