A world in need of mercy
Our fragmented world desperately cries out for mercy - while we feebly attempt to shelter our minds from acknowledging the brokenness, remaining ignorant to others suffering in conflict-stricken nations or those who are trapped in cycles of poverty.
Our conversations lack vulnerability as we steer away from addressing how we truly are going. We shift uncomfortably away from addressing battles with mental health, abuse or pornography.
In the comfort of our self-made caverns, we refute our duty of care to each other.
We are a broken, desperate and unholy people. Yet, God hears our cry, delivers mercy and refuses to pass us by.
The Good Samaritan
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself (Luke chapter 10, verse 27).
In Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37 Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. An expert of the law challenges Jesus about the prerequisites to inheriting eternal life.
Through a process of Socratic questioning, Jesus reveals the man’s motives and compels us to consider if we truly love our neighbours.
Motives of the heart
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”(Luke chapter 10, verse 29).
Essentially the expert of the law asked Jesus, “what is the minimum I can do to check this box,” and “exactly who is worthy of love?”
This question is not coming from the outflowing of an eager to please heart. In contrast, his motives are selfish, focusing on the minimum amount of effort required to get a free pass into heaven.
This misguided question could easily be coming from any of us.
We excuse ourselves from loving others. We continue to ask the Lord, which people deserve to be loved. We refuse to allow our hearts to be softened as we persistently pursue what is comfortable.
Passing to the other side
The dying man lay naked and alone. Desperate, afraid, and vulnerable.
Yet both the Priest and the Levite refuse to step into the uncomfortable. They relinquish their duty of care to the dying man. Instead, they elect to pass to the other side of the road making the intentional effort to ignore his dying plea.
In contrast, the Samaritans were a marginalised people in society. This could have easily hardened the Samaritan’s heart towards helping others. However, the Samaritan stepped into the uncomfortable. He acknowledged his duty of care to his fellow man in an act of outrageous mercy.
Mercy has the ability to break down walls. It transcends differences in culture, gender, socioeconomic status, and all manmade societal dividers. Mercy acknowledges our humanness, our need for compassion and forgiveness.
God has instructed us to love, and in doing so we are called to step into the uncomfortable.
Loving our neighbours
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah chapter 6, verse 8).
In Luke chapter 10, verse 37, Jesus concludes the parable of the Good Samaritan by challenging the expert of the law to go and do likewise. This is not a passive instruction, rather it is a challenge to act out mercy.
So what does it look like for us to live a life of mercy today?
I suggest that it starts with a willing heart. A willingness to be inconvenienced and readjust our priorities in order to accommodate the needs of others. Furthermore, it requires us to look for opportunities along our daily journeys to promote equality, demonstrate compassion and forgiveness.
Although it may be uncomfortable, we are challenged to love our neighbours regardless. A simple instruction, but difficult to obey. Do we truly love our neighbours?
We are not alone
Paul, in Romans chapter 7, verse 19, explains his inner conflict of wanting to do what is right but continually doing wrong.
However, we know that we love because Christ first loved us and we can be assured that in knowing Christ we are changed beings. We do not need to depend on our own strength to earn enough points to gain entry into heaven. Jesus has already paid the price for our salvation.
Although our own will fails us, God’s character is love and He will never pass us by.
Kiwi-born with British roots, Jessica Gardiner drinks tea religiously while her dinner table discussions reverberate between the sovereignty of God, global politics, and the public health system. Having experienced churches from conservative to everything but, Jessica writes out a desire for Christian orthodoxy and biblical literacy in her generation. Jessica is married to fellow young writer Blake Gardiner.