Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Love Over Hate, Mercy Over Revenge

Nothing brings out self-righteous anger quite like people killing each other, amiright? A few months ago, when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown, we all exploded with condemnation for whichever party we thought was guilty, and praise for the person we decided was innocent. The city of Ferguson, Missouri, where this shooting took place, flooded with protestors, then looters. Everyone, from the lowly bloggers up to the President himself, used this horrible situation as a platform to decry racism in modern America. Finally, after a few weeks, everything seemed to calm down, until a grand jury decided to not indict Officer Wilson, and now, the fires of our fury have rekindled. The protestors again descended on Ferguson, and some protests quickly turned violent, resulting in multiple businesses being looted and even burned. In the streets and on the Internet, we have again divided ourselves into factions, some of us calling Michael Brown a martyr and hero and Officer Wilson a thug, and some of us proclaiming the opposite. We spout off vicious rhetoric and beg for whatever "justice" we deem most just. We're all angry — dangerously angry — and all very quick to condemn whoever we think is the "bad guy" in this scenario. 

Christians, wrath like this isn't the answer. Mercy is. 

Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." And, in Luke 6:38, Christ says, "Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Whether we're angry at a person, a police force, or an entire race, we're all full of wrath and a desire for revenge and not really leaving much room for mercy and compassion. And whom does that fury help? Absolutely no one. Rather, it just breeds more anger and resentment.

See, that's the thing about deadly sins like wrath: They can't ever cause anything good. They only multiply themselves and destroy faith, hope, and charity. And mercy? Mercy creates. Mercy mends. Mercy brings people together no matter how different they are. It doesn't patronize or dehumanize someone because he looks or thinks differently. It acknowledges him and his problems and seeks to help and better that person.

Ultimately, God is the one who will decide who is guilty and who is innocent. We all like to throw around the words "don't judge," usually in context with things like gay marriage and abortion, but that saying was really made for times like these. We're confused and desperate to judge whoever we think needs it. But we know from Mark 4:22 that "…everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light." We don't need to worry about who is guilty and who is innocent. That will all be revealed, and perfect justice will be given at the hands of God. We just need to have mercy and show love to our fellow human beings.

No matter whom we blame for Michael Brown's death, mercy is the only way that we, as a people, can move on. White or black, liberal or conservative, we need to realize that we all have problems that contributed to this tragedy and then mercifully try to help each other overcome them. We can be angry — don't misunderstand me. We can be angry at a culture that seems to want to keep African Americans low on the totem pole and encourages delinquent behavior among young men. We can be angry at the idea that the police can do no wrong and angry at the idea that the police are draconian racists. But we cannot ever let that anger take the place of actually fixing the problems, which will never happen unless we can come together as a country to fix them. We're all hurting. But we can all mercifully help each other to heal. 


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