What does mercy look like to…

What does mercy look like to me? Every time I’m confronted with my own failings, which is a lot, it’s remembering that God loves me more. It’s also every small kindness I receive and every chance to offer one to others.

What does mercy look like to my family? It’s every person who lets on that they know that this first Christmas, New Year, round of birthdays, etc. without Dad is going to be tough and offers Mom, or my sisters or nieces a little extra TLC.

What does mercy look like to the too many people I know who are battling – battling cancer, battling addiction and mental illness, battling tough times of all sorts? It’s the hug, the casserole, the pithy words of encouragement, the break that finally comes.

What does mercy look like to the refugees desperate for a better life? How can it be anything but the welcoming of a stranger that Jesus has on His short list of what His followers will be judged by in Matthew 25?

What does mercy look like to the people living in daily terror in Syria, Iraq, and too many other places we don’t even notice? It’s someone with power risking their life to make it stop. I’m almost a pacificist, but I know that much.

What does mercy look like to Muslims here and abroad who have nothing to do with these people who claim their faith to do unspeakable things? It’s embrace, friendship, acceptance from Christians who have their own issues with people hijacking our religion to spread hate.

What does mercy look like to people who live in fear in Paris, in California, in just about anywhere? It’s the comfort of knowing that the Christian Bible says 365 times “Do not fear” and not once says “get so afraid that you’ll be a sucker for any tough-talker eager to lead you away from who you are, which is God’s child.”

What does mercy look like to the fear-mongers? It probably looks horribly naive. But I also hope it looks like the nagging conscience of the right they know is true. And it definitely looks like the offer that, while it may not be easy and certainly won’t be without some shame and loss of face, God wants them back in His love, only at the cost of letting go of their hate and fear and the phantom power it brings them.

What does mercy look like to the radicalized? I honestly don’t know how, but my faith tells me that God holds out hope even for them, that they will come to know the deception they have bought for what it is. Mercy always offers the chance to exchange false idols for real God. Even when the rest of us have written you off.

What does mercy look like to you?

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