In the beginning there was love. Love ruled in relationship, behaviour, attitude and indeed every aspect of life and living. People loved people, loved God, loved animals, loved nature, loved their environment. And love cared, love gave, love loved everywhere in every situation.
But when fear entered our world – when perfect love was fractured, love was no longer enough. Fractured love now required an additional element if it was to continue to reign and that element was mercy.
A once popular song of a now passing generation was entitled ‘All You Need Is Love’ (The Beatles 1967). Released during what was to become known as the ‘Summer of Love’, sadly, that love too was a broken love – and it ultimately failed because it missed the vital antidote to fractured love – mercy. Not only so but it devalued the very word ‘love’ itself – endowing it with a new meaning – a sexual licence to do what you liked irrespective of who it harmed, hurt or destroyed. We are still suffering from the fallout of the ‘Summer of Love’.
Of course it is not just in the world outside religion in which love has been devalued and mercy set aside. I have heard it said or inferred so often that you will find true love expressed in ‘our’ church. Sadly that has not been my general experience. Yes, we may love those who love us, those who attend ‘our’ church – but as Jesus says – ‘What’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much! So what if you do good to those who do good to you? Even scoundrels do that much!’ (Luke 6:32 & 33 Voice)
We live in a world both secular and religious that has forgotten, ignored, or maybe never known that love without mercy is really not love at all.
As we look out on our fractured world today – at the division in our communities and nations, at the hate, bitterness and rage all around us – I believe the only hope of avoiding deeper and deeper pain and destruction is to see mercy rising in our hearts. And at the forefront of that drive should be the true church – those who claim to belong to The Father of Mercy (2 Corinthians 1:3).
Everything we are, everything we have, is because of mercy. Our God is after all, supremely a God of mercy (Ephesians 2:4). And we are called to be His mercy to others!
So perhaps tomorrow (and other tomorrows) – in the morning as we prepare for a new day we can ask God – ‘Please lead me in such a way today so that I can be your mercy to others – my wife/husband, my family and relations, my colleagues, those I meet in the shop or street. Help me to be your hands and eyes of mercy. When people look at me – may they see a reflection of you?
‘The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’