The Mercy Seat

When I woke up this morning I knew nothing of the shooting in Dallas. I got in my car to get coffee and it was all over the radio. As I sipped I saw so many reports online. While part of me could not comprehend how this could happen, although another part of me could. It’s the world being the world. All I could do is pray for everyone touched by these events.

You may find this odd but that included the shooter. I did not pray that his pain be reduced (if indeed he felt any). I did not pray for understanding of his actions. I prayed for his salvation. I’m learning how it’s the first prayer we should offer for those who do evil and revel in death because what has done cannot be undone. The dead are gone from this world and the wounded will bear scars, both seen and unseen. I pray for salvation because with it love defeats the evil and brings everlasting life.

At the time of my prayers, there were reports of four different shooters, one of which had been killed after unsuccessful negotiations with police. Now there are only reports of the dead shooter but it has not yet been 24 hours since the attack and speculation still outweighs known facts by a wide margin. That’s okay. I’ll wait, and keep praying.

Activist groups all over the place are fired up and rushing to judgement even before all that can be known about the Dallas shooting, and those in Louisiana and Minnesota have come into the light. I won’t go anywhere near there. I can’t. That’s not my job. My job is to be as Christ-like as my belief in Him and my limited physical capabilities allow me to be. So I turn to love and it’s important corollary, mercy.

I know that my most recent post dealt with mercy but this is all in a different context because life really isn’t linear. It has many dimensions. Right now, I’m moving along the z-axis.

I will not rush to judgement. I will not amble up slowly, examining the evidence as it emerges, and then judge. It’s not my job. I know that because Jesus told me it’s not. Matthew 7:1.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Lots of us know that verse. I chirped it out over coffee with my friend Tracy this morning. Even before I was walking close to the Lord I knew judging people was a bad idea. As part of the world, judgemental people annoyed the crap out of me. I heard a shrillness in their words that was atonal. And I knew that if anyone looked into my life deeply enough they could find a whole boatload of things about me that are worthy of judgement. I didn’t want to go there. But as a Christ follower, a follower of the Nazarene is the name I prefer, it’s not Matthew 7:1 that’s the big one on the topic. It’s 7:2. 

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

No thanks. After this many decades on earth I know how flawed my judgement is. Even if I didn’t love and follow God and there was just some amorphous, non-sentient karmic force in the universe to impose my judgement back upon me, I still wouldn’t judge because I know how badly it would end.

So, to steal from PT’s message this Sunday, if there were two chairs in which I can sit. One named “Judgement” and the other, “Mercy”, I’d sit in the second one. That’s my job. To show mercy. Not just to those I might think worthy or deserving of it. Everyone. Full stop. If we are to love our neighbor as we love ourself as He repeated we are to do from Leviticus through Galatians, we must love everyone. Not just a little but as much as we can because that is how we love ourself. I know that there’s a lot to unpack in that but we’ll do that another time.

I just returned from a prayer vigil in Irving. I expected a bigger crowd than the fifty or so who were there. A woman called for us to grab a stranger’s hand and told us her mom always said that faith without action is dead. I’d learned that in James 2:17 so I mouthed the last part of that verse silently to myself as she said it aloud.

We listened to the woman pray. Then the mayor of Irving spoke followed by a pastor from Birmingham, Alabama. I listened as they spoke but my focus kept veering back to mercy. The world is so much in need of it now. The American culture is really in pieces. Divided and polarized. All sides unwilling to listen to those with differing views let alone attempt a constructive dialog. For more reasons than I can count there are those whose job in the world is to stoke the fires of division and shout down those with differing opinions. My job, and those who I stand with, is to remove that which fuels those flames. I know that is easier said than done and I don’t yet know what part I should play. So I’ll pray on it, a lot, and do what I can.

My main tools will be love and mercy because everybody needs those. And because #AllLivesMatter

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