Mercy and Justice

Mercy and Justice.

Mercy. And Justice.

Mercy. And. Justice.

We tend to think of those two things as being separate, and perhaps even opposites.

Mercy. Forgiveness. Love.

Justice. Wrath. Punishment.

But what if we’re looking at it wrong? What if in fact mercy and justice are really just two sides of the same coin? What if the mercy that liberates the oppressed and the justice that judges the oppressor are really the same thing? What if in fact oppression oppresses both the oppressor and the oppressed and they both are really in need of mercy and justice? What if injustice prevents mercy from flowing in either direction?

Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the “beloved community.” The Hebrew scriptures talk about shalom. Mercy and justice kiss.

And what if the church, especially the American evangelical church, in its zeal to save souls from eternal death, has missed the point of grace and mercy by failing to understand that it is intertwined with justice.

Not the justice that casts into hell, but the justice that frees first the oppressed, and then the oppressor to receive the mercy of God.

There is no message of grace in a world where black lives don’t matter. Where refugees are made to wait years for asylum in a place that is only marginally safer than the one they left. Where billionaires are free to suck up the vast majority of the world’s wealth while the vast majority struggle to even survive. Where people are shunned and shamed because of who they love and how they were made.

There is no gospel that does not tackle mercy and justice together. As one. At the same time.

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