I got an email earlier this week from a woman who has a dear friend named Danny. Danny is a graduate of a Baptist university, a Baptist Seminary, and has been a campus minister, church college minister, and pastor. He is now finishing up a five-year prison sentence. I do not know what he did. I don’t really want or need to know. What I do know is that his dear friend wrote to say that he has been so disappointed by ministerial friends who have avoided him during this time. When he gets out in August, he doesn’t know what he is going to do for employment.
This is not a gut-wrenching story about injustice. But it is a story about the absence of mercy and forgiveness from those who should be leading the way.
People of God, how can we not be people of mercy and forgiveness? Have you read the Gospel? Have you experienced the good news of Jesus Christ? I just don’t get it. Mercy and forgiveness should be our way of life without even blinking an eye, yet some of the most unforgiving and merciless people many of us know or hear about call themselves people of faith. Faith in what?! Not the God of grace and love that I know through Jesus and in the power of the Spirit of Life. But in the end Grace wins. Love, mercy and forgiveness will reign forever.
Below is one of the best illustrations I have heard of this hope in Mercy. A friend from Seminary posted this earlier this week about the death of Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist “Church”. MUST READ!
A Tale of Two Freds:
Fred Phelps, pastor who used his faith and public voice to condemn and hate.
Fred Rogers, pastor who used his faith and public voice to love and teach.
Phelps died today. Rogers’ birthday is today.
Phelps told nearly everyone that they were not good enough, not loved, and would burn.
Rogers told everyone that he loved them just the way they are.
Phelps said “God hates.” Rogers said “God loves.”
I believe that Phelps met God today, and was forgiven. Rogers was probably available to welcome him gently, with a hug, and a kind word. Maybe something like, “We understand. It’s hard down there. But you’ll have peace in your heart here.”
And I hope that Jesus then walked in, took off his shoes and coat, and put on slippers and a cardigan.
He sang to Phelps, and Phelps learned to love.
Thank you Matt!
And Danny, hang in there. There are people of faith out here who love you, who together with you want to seek forgiveness and live mercy, as we welcome each other gently, with a hug, and a kind word. Stay strong, regardless of the unmerciful.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.