Dear Christian: Mercy is Not a Political Position

[ FULL TRANSCRIPT of "Dear Christian: Mercy is Not a Political Position" ]

Mercy is not a political position.

At least it shouldn’t be—especially for the Christian.

We live in a deeply divided and overly politicized moment but you, person of faith, should be wary of getting caught up in it; especially as it pertains to how and to whom we offer mercy.

We must not let our life of compassion be curbed by our political preferences. To do so is to be guided by the wrong identity. If you see someone in need, if you see a human in need of protection or provision you offer it. You stand up for them. You cross cultural, political and family lines for them.

Let me put it this way: if you find yourself wondering whether or not showing mercy to a particular person or people group will make you seem too liberal or align you with the conservatives or if it will be interpreted as affirming their behavior or enabling some other sin: you’re doing it wrong.

Yes, there’s a time for truth and correction, for a discussion of right and wrong and to consider all of the influencing factors—absolutely. But when a person is hurting and in pain, running for shelter, small and defenseless, maligned and misunderstood, or hungry, or bleeding that is not the time. 

We cannot let the fear of what others might think or the fear of what sins we might allow determine the love we give in moments of dire need. Because when fear fills our hearts compassion ceases to flow from our hands. Every single time.

To be a person of faith in Jesus means that your primary identity is that of a receiver and a giver of mercy. Before we are liberal, before we are conservative, before we are American we are the baptized. We are the ones who once were lost—spiritual refugees, driven into a land of despair by our sin and our frailty but were taken in by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ—who have been rescued and found. And that mercy we've received is meant to so fill our hearts and flow from our hands that we become people of empathy, advocacy and tangible love for vulnerable people wherever they're found and whoever they might be.

And we are to do this apart from political persuasion, tribal affiliation, or nationalistic allegiance. We do it because it’s what our Father wants. We do it because that’s what we have received. We do it because that’s who we are.

If the mercy you’re willing to offer to others perfectly aligns with the talking points of one party then you should stop pretending that your convictions are religious ones. They’re not. And here’s how I know. The church I pastor in Queens is diverse, in every possible way: different countries, different languages, different viewpoints. When I stand at the front of the communion line offering them God's meal of mercy I'm reminded of what the Gospel does. It does not draw lines. It breaks them, confuses them and mixes people together by virtue of the one thing that truly binds us all together: our need for compassion.

Real, christlike love will never tell you to stay put, to hold back, or to maintain the status quo. No, christlike love will send you out, crush your comfort, cross the lines, and force you to give up what you desperately want to protect in order to give to someone else what they desperately need. That’s what Christ has done for us. And that’s what we must always be willing to do for others.

Mercy is not political. Not for you, Christian. You don’t get that luxury.

When we see someone else’s need we do not ask the question, “Which side am I on?”

We ask ourselves this, “What does love require?” Of me. For them. And then we give it