Monday, March 14, 2011

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment, Part 1

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:7.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:2

I’m completely aware that the following topic is one that will likely offend many readers. My goal is not to get people riled up but rather to point the teachings of Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom while presenting perspective that greatly opposes the majority. We must be willing to turn loose of what we hold so dear to ever be found teachable and ready to embrace what the Lord instructed us to do upon this earth. Our own rationale and personal preference must be set aside in order to even be open to hear what the Lord is speaking to His people. Please keep in mind that His ways are not our ways nor do His plans always seem to make sense to us as we’ve drifted so far away from what He intended. We must be careful not to confuse “the way it’s always been” in this nation with who we’re called to be as born from above Believers. They are rarely ever one in the same.

For the past several months, I’ve gone to the chiropractor on a weekly basis. Every Thursday morning, I’m brought back to a private room and wait for the guy who is working to get my messed up neck and spine aligned to arrive. Although I usually never wait more than five or ten minutes at the most, I don’t sit well with nothing to tinker with, watch or do for very long. So, with that being said, I usually become engaged with the live radio that plays over the speakers. Since my appointments are almost always at the same time each week, I always hear the same broadcast. I won’t go into detail as to who it is, because it’s irrelevant really. This guy is a pretty well-known, nationally syndicated radio show host though, primarily in the Southeast. Now I understand that this guy caters primarily to people prone to attend NASCAR races and who likely know the lyrics to every top forty song in country music today, but it’s this guy’s stance on some important issues that really gets me riled up.

He often says things that offend me, as a follower of Christ, but I’m pretty accustomed to that. The interesting thing is, he’s the perfect poster child for patriotic Christian America. He seems to be completely OK with the belief that the American military can and should execute their power wherever and however they feel is appropriate. He often rants about how people who “don’t like America the way it is should just pack up and leave with all of the illegals”. He, as expected, is always telling stories that (I guess) are supposed to make grown men shed a tear or two. Sappy, American patriotism banter that cause people to envision fighter jets flying overhead as Old Glory waves in the background. It is the usual uber-patriotic fare really. Nothing too original with the exception of his occasional discussion of hunting and fishing expeditions.

Several weeks ago though, he crossed the line. (Well, my line anyway, which is nothing special or exact I might add.) Apparently in a preceding show that had already aired (that I didn’t hear), the discussion was surrounding an incident where a guy shot and killed a police officer. The host had apparently spent a great deal of time sharing how, in his opinion, this murderer of this police officer deserved to “be fried for his heinous act against one of America’s finest”. In the show that I heard, that reflected back on the previous broadcast, he read a letter on the air. It was from a concerned listener, a housewife I believe. She referred to herself as a Christian who wanted to promote another viewpoint on the matter. Her letter challenged the “murder the murderer” mentality and asked the host to consider the teachings of Christ. She basically encouraged the host to consider if Jesus sees us all equally. The fact that no one is “worse” than another and that we have all been shown God’s compassion, mercy and grace. She ended the letter with, in summary, “Shouldn’t we see this guy how God sees him? Shouldn’t we extend God’s love and forgiveness to him just like we’ve been shown?”

I was actually anxiously awaiting the host’s response as she posed her viewpoint quite well, and most importantly, biblically. Would he take a step back from his boastfully ugly stance and recant? Would he consider this listeners point of view and meet her in the middle? I truly was waiting for his response. And what was it? “Ma’am, should we show God’s love to this cop-killing murderer? I must say, absolutely not!” he exclaimed. He’d go on to rant about how this “cop-killer, degenerate of a man deserved to rot in hell for the atrocities that he’s done!” Really? “He deserved to rot in hell?” He went on to talk about how proud he was to be a patriotic Christian American that didn’t tolerate such heinous activity, especially against a defender of the people. “The Christian thing to do would be to execute good old fashioned American justice”, he’d go on to say. (I won’t even go into how immediately after this segment he discussed how “hot” a certain woman who had been on the show was and the jesting innuendo of what he’d like to do with her.)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” Jesus Christ in Luke 6:37

I couldn’t believe my ears as he continued on with his self-proclaimed pro-“Christian patriot” sermon. It would seem, to an untrained ear who wasn’t already indoctrinated from birth by this stuff, that the white Christian American patriot should eradicate all others who oppose them. It was as if I could hear the cheers of the patriotic Christian majority who were listening cheering “Kill him! Kill him!” throughout the reach of the broadcast. And they’d be justified and elated in doing so. Body of Christ, is this right? Is this what we have learned from studying the teachings of Jesus? The absolute only “man” to ever walk the earth and have the right to execute wrath and judgment laid down his own life for these “heinous” murderers, myself included! I’ve lusted after women, do I deserve death? I’ve stolen, should I be beaten until my accusers are satisfied? I’ve lied and had thoughts that would cause others to despise me. Do I also deserve to be put to death for my actions? I’d like the opportunity to ask the radio host if his daughter had an abortion and willingly killed an innocent baby within her womb, does she also deserve to be dragged off to the electric chair for her actions? To be true to this “defending the innocent” ideal, then absolutely yes. But that is different right? Or what of the thousands of innocent women and children (or the teenage boys who know nothing of what they’re fighting for, in many instances) that become casualties of wars that this nation wages? Are they not guiltless as well? Well, that is just how it is, right? We decide who is worthy of life and who is not and it’s all rooted in arrogance and pride.

“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:15.

Part 2 to post later this week. Archived Article on this topic: Hypocrisy Of The Nations


Andrew said...

Joel again your post rings true... too many times the super right wing with its big fat bellowing blow-hearts claiming to be Christians saying to kill anyone who opposes them. As for the man who killed a cop, mercy should be shown but it on the other side there is justice, now I can’t say that I condone the man who killed the cop and I feel that he should be tried but to just throw him into the electric chair is not right. Taking one life for another is never the answer if I recall the words of Christ correctly:
MATTHEW 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
That is where the church has lost its way it is only focused on justice and no mercy, so again like always I applaud you for shining a beacon into the deep dark hole known as Christianity

Joel Spencer said...

Don't "applaud" me yet, there's a lot more to come that steps on our American-Christian toes. In future posts within this article I use Matthew 5 to combat the "right" many Believers think they have when they possess the OT "slay them all" mentality. Jesus knew that they were aware of the "old" ways. He came to institute a new way.

Thankfully, it was all for our benefit as God now chose to deal with man in a new level of mercy and grace via His Son. It is this mercy that we claim to have experienced yet we've abused and failed to extend to others. It's time this changes.

Thanks for joining in. There are at least three parts to this, perhaps four.

Andrew said...

Too many people quote the old and neglect the new, one thing I also thought about was Matthew 7 with the plankeyed people who are quick to judge in John 8 he who is without sin cast the first stone, and I think people want to do that but forget about their own problems sadly there will be no resolution until the end, but that doesn't mean we need to stop shouting it out at injustice we need to fight on

Frank said...

The christian lady listener and your use of what Jesus said about forgiveness is out of place when it comes to judicial punishment.
You cannot just "forgive" murder. It has to be dealt with, and indeed God commands it. Jesus did not cancel the Law of Moses in its judicial use. In fact the command to put murderers to death precedes Moses. It was a command given to Noah, and it still applies.
Extrapolating the logic (as you apply it) of forgiving someone who offends the law, means it must be universally applied. Therefore it must also apply to someone who merely breaks a speed limit. -Someone who rapes your daughter or your wife. -Someone who steals a pencil from the office. etc.
After all, we are, equally, all sinners are we not and all need forgiveness.
The logic of refusing to put a murderer to death on the basis of forgiveness cannot be applied just slightly. Forgiveness is forgiveness. Let him free. Why arrest him in the first place? After all Jesus paid for every single sin. Therefore ALL offenses should be let off.
That is the extrapolated logic of your argument.
It is therefore obvious that the police force should be disbanded, they are an unnecessary expense, and certainly not in the will of God, nor is the army for that matter.
We should all just learn to turn the other cheek. God will protest us.
Sorry guys! Don't mean to be offensive, but?

Joel Spencer said...

Frank: Thank you for sharing your opinion. It's your mindset that I have the hardest time with - searching for reasons to defend your "right" to execute judgment upon another. In this belief, do you then pursue and promote the advancement of the death penalty for women who have abortions? As you said, it must be unilateral as it "commanded" by God, right? I don't buy it.

Jesus showed us a better way. Just because it demands us to be humble and laid low should not cause one to discard it. I choose the better way. The Body of Christ needs to learn to walk according to the spirit Frank, and leave all of this worldly logic and rationale behind.

Frank said...

I was being a little tongue in cheek about what had been said previously!
You were making blank rules but were very partially applying them (to the death penalty only). You cannot do that with a principle!
If you intend to forgive a murderer, then ALL offenses must be forgiven, and then there will be no laws at all. There will be chaos.

Returning though, to the very idea of not executing the death penalty on a murderer. Nothing Jesus said, or did, eradicated the death penalty, or any other law of Moses as far as its application for the national judicial law is concerned.
You clearly have no idea why the death penalty IS necessary for murder, and commanded by God. (Notwithstanding cases of miss-justice)
The death penalty was COMMANDED to Noah, and that has not been changed. The law of Moses as regarding the death penalty was based on this Noahic law.
Death is commanded because the blood of the innocent cries out from the ground. If it is not dealt with, then it gives Satan access to the land because it is polluted.
There is a total difference between spiritual issues and legal judgements. The two should never be confused like you have done.

Joel Spencer said...

Frank: To hear you say that "spiritual issues and legal judgments" are "totally [different]" is just plain ridiculous. In this age, we've been called to walk according to the spirit, viewing all through spiritual eyes. There is no "confusion" of the two for they are inseparable.

Hebrews 8 sums up ALL of this easily, "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of A BETTER COVENANT, which was established upon better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (vs. 6-10)

All that preceded Christ was made lesser. One can choose to walk in the old ways (and use it to justify worldly positions and fleshly desires) or one can choose to walk in the better way.

You also stated, "If you intend to forgive a murderer, then ALL offenses must be forgiven, and then there will be no laws at all. There will be chaos." This statement is EXACTLY my point. People reason away living according to the teachings of Christ because the don't make sense according to the patterns of this world. It is error rooted in man's abilities to control everything, lacking trust in the Creator of it all to do so, according to His plan.

Lastly, this article addresses murder, the death penalty etc. because that radio interview is how this piece originated.