Mercy: Its a Weird Thing

Two thoughts collided like atoms. The first was in regard to one of the books I am reading “Keep Christianity Weird”.  The author, Michael Frost, proposes that Christianity, at its best has always been counter cultural and that we should keep it that way. I was glad to find that he was not proposing that I wear flannel or grow a ‘man bun’. He reminds us that we follow an eccentric Saviour. His values do not align with the world’s and so ours ought not to conform either.

As I pondered the thesis of this book, I realized that I was living a ‘weird’ life. The world would not be comfortable with my friends, nor probably with my income. My life has evolved into a weird one by Frost’s definition and I am glad. I realize I am also weird, strange or peculiar in other ways that probably have little to do with following Jesus, but in this key way I am grateful to be weird after the fashion of Jesus.

The second thought was about mercy. I had a conversation with a ‘minister’ friend who asked me to think of a time I had received mercy. My mind flashed to a song we used to sing at Children’s Clubs “Mercy is Falling” but the question was not about receiving mercy from God but from another human.

I was sixteen or seventeen and making my way through the throng in the high school hallway between classes. I was walking next to “Jim” (not his real name). Jim was a good looking athletic type. He was very popular. As we walked I was teasing and taunting him. I was not as athletic or popular but I had a biting sarcastic wit which I used to ‘level the playing field’. I must have hit a nerve because Jim turn to me and  forcefully swore at me. Before I knew it my fist had impacted his face and he was collapsed on the hall floor with a pool of blood blooming beneath his head. I was soon hustled off to the office as Jim received medical care. The vice Principal and I had long acquaintance due to previous occasions of ‘playing field’ levelling. He informed me that I was to go home and that I was likely to be expelled and that he was going to recommend that I be criminally charged.

That day I had lots of time to think about how quickly things happened and that all the dreams I had for my life seemed to be washed away in an undisciplined moment.

The next day my parents and I were called to the school. There in the vice Principal’s office was Jim and his family. He had stitches above his nose but he had a smile on his lips for me. In my fear I had been expecting the worst because I had earned nothing less but I was greeted with mercy. Jim forgave me before I even saw him that day. He and his parents convinced the school not to expel me and assured me that they had no plans to press charges. The relief was amazing! I deserved punishment which would ‘ruin’ me but instead I got mercy.

This mercy changed my life. That was the last time I ever punched anyone. I also became aware that a rash impulse can lead to dire consequences and I believe this set me on my eventual course of working with ex-offenders. This mercy was integral in making me weird!

I have received so much more mercy from God but the example of mercy I received that day from Jim and his parents, remains as an example of how the mercy of God can be incarnated in a fallen and impulsive world.

The “accuser” rightfully names our offenses but through the mercy of Jesus we do not get what we deserve. Instead we receive a call to join his delightfully weird band of followers.