There is likely no greater example of mercy than when Jesus stood before an angry mob of accusers, wishing to stone a woman to death for her adulterous deed.
Was the woman guilty of sinning? Sure. However, the mob meant to put Jesus on the spot. Would He follow the letter of the law and allow them to stone the woman, or would He show mercy, despite the law?
As most believers know, Jesus chose to show mercy. He told the woman’s accusers, “you who are without sin cast the first stone.” At that, the group disbanded and the woman was left speechless, likely stunned at the turn of the events. Jesus in essence showed a measure of mercy the woman was probably unable to comprehend. Mercy was a quality exhibited many times by Jesus. As followers of Christ, believers too should be quick to show mercy and be slow to anger or to judge other fallible humans. Unfortunately, not all so-called Christians embody this trait in their every day lives as one study recently discovered.
A Barna Group study recently revealed a sad result. Although four out of five — or 83% of pastors — say mercy directly influences the way they go about their daily lives, only four in ten Christians can say the same.
“Four-in-10 Christians are less likely to characterize their words and actions as merciful,” the study’s authors wrote. “It remains part of their belief, but they either don’t really think about it much, or it simply doesn’t influence their actions. The apathy in this sizable minority is reason for concern among a faith group that professes a commitment to a merciful God.”
The Barna research interviewed some 1,502 practicing Christians through an online survey. Some 515 protestant senior pastors were also interviewed, partly online and partly by telephone from April 12 to May 2nd.
A study based on the findings, authored by Jack Alexander, will be released in spring of next year. This follow-up study will relay the findings on mercy and forgiveness in more detail. Author Jack Alexander, is already a published author as he has released a book entitled “The God Impulse: The Power of Mercy in an Unmerciful World,” in late July. His book, which was centered on the topic of “biblical mercy,” makes Alexander an expert when it comes to the topic of the Barna study.
“For Jesus, truth and mercy went hand-in-hand,” he wrote in his book. “Where He preached, He also healed. He didn’t outsource one or the other to biblical scholars or nonprofit ministries. He presented the truth of the gospel through His words and His actions, and He did it all in a hands-on, relational way.”
Alexander went on to express the problem of today’s Christians and their lack of mercy.
“Today we seem to have lost this powerful pattern of self-giving love, focusing on truth at the expense of mercy or on mercy at the expense of truth, and often failing to build genuine, lasting relationships with the people around us,” he said.
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This quote first uttered by Theodore Roosevelt exemplifies want it means to live a truly Christ-centered life. People won’t be receptive to any truths or teaching if they feel demeaned and judged by Christians. Therefore, believers should always remember they must show mercy. Not necessarily at the expense of truth, but in conjunction with truth. Remember, no matter what a person’s life looks like, or the problems they face, they won’t be interested in Christ’s teachings if they don’t first understand the love, forgiveness and mercy He offers.
~ 1776 Christian