Graciousness is the balm for incivility.
Compassion is ointment for bigotry.
Forgiveness is surgery to heal anger.
Servanthood is the hospital for curing pride.
We read reports of those on the right causing dissention, dividing, being bigoted, etc.. In those spheres there is no disagreement, so it must be true. We read reports of those on the left causing dissention, dividing, being bigoted, etc.. In those spheres there is … Continue reading To my friends both right and left
The topic of euthanasia is in the news again. The discussions on the topic are quite troublesome to me. It is not really a question of should we or should we not. The issue goes far deeper. As a culture, we lost the art of dying.
The problem with ethics is we try to define right apart from God. The question of whether something is ethical is actually unbiblical. Biblical “ethics” is what we call progressive sanctification. Here we align all things to the image of Jesus, over time, and as the Spirit leads. This includes death and suffering.
How one views death determines how one views life. The issue with euthanasia and its kissing cousin abortion is our view of death and suffering. We as a culture, including Christians, are buying into the notion that inconvenience and suffering are not worthy of life. Such a view dehumanizes us. Seeing euthanasia as dignified or abortion as wise is robbery at best. To view suffering as God not blessing is to ignore the cross.
Long ago there was a nobility and aspiration to how we faced death. It was viewed as a testament to ones character and constitution. The process of mourning and lamenting was accepted, encouraged and viewed with dignity. We need to return to this.
The worst crime in our culture, including Christianity, is suffering. To be in-convinced, to be in pain, to be lamenting is to be an unwelcome burden. In a culture so enthralled with authenticity, we jettisoned a massive part of being human. Many of our churches worship in more hip-hop fashion than in grief. Both are essential. Euthanasia is the symptom not the disease.
I could share stories of people who wake up in severe pain and call it a good day. They get up and live. I could recount people who died, suffering in pain, and did so with dignity. One of the greatest honors in life is to serve the helpless who suffer. Because of this we have lost the value of suffering. Because of this people who do suffer have the added burden of feeling less human.
We are drunk with happiness and it is robbing us all of our humanity, Christians included. Let us as a culture admit that we hide from death. Let us also admit that this means we do not truly know how to live. To suffer is not to be less alive or less human or less spiritual. Sometimes suffering is the most spiritual thing you will walk through or walk through with someone. Let us also admit as a culture that hiding suffering is to also remove compassion and love in one of its purist forms.
In running from pain, Christians, we also lose sight of the Gospel and Jesus’ process of making all things new. God painfully allows suffering for a number of reasons, and often for more than just one reason. But His delight is not in the suffering but in the new covenant whereby all pain, sin and suffering are dealt away with. Sadly, in suffering we see the glorious hope of Jesus’ return and our desperate need of God. We see our need to love one another.
To those suffering, facing death and are tired. You are facing a most noble challenge. Your value is in Him who knit you together in your mother’s womb. When you see Jesus face to face all pain and suffering will pale in comparison with the majesty of God. You are not less human. You are not an inconvenience. We, your fellow humans, need to do a better job of showing love in its purist form. We need to mourn and see that as dignified. We need to sober up. You who are suffering have much to teach, much wisdom to impart. We need you. Rather than hide you, we need to compassionately embrace you.
Last Thursday I wrote about my desire for my boys to live in a world of civility. The thought process started when Gavin said thank you to me after giving him a simple treat. I treasured the event. Given the grievous incident in Arizona, my wish for my boys grew even stronger.
Two wrongs don’t make a right
The Bible puts it this way: “A soft word takes away wrath.” I have no wish to take political sides on this blog. Even in irate anger, one can show the civility one so much desires. The political vitriol displayed lately is alarming. It is akin to fighting a fire with gasoline.
Evil and responsibility exist
There is evil and brokenness in life. Even with this, people are responsible for their own actions. Evil or brokenness is the root cause of tragedies such as happened in Arizona. Civility, compassion and graciousness are the greatest weapons against evil and brokenness. It’s what Jesus did.
Two prescriptions of civility:
1) Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger… Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. ~ Ephesians 4:26,29
2) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20
The bottom line
We are responsible for our own actions. Anger is not wrong, but we must be prudent and thoughtful in how we exercise and work through our anger. For sure, in public discourse great restraint and gracious must be demonstrated. Truth can be declared without being inflammatory. Restraint isn’t a lack of authenticity or genuineness. Restraint is an exercise of wisdom and humility. Our culture could use a large dose of both. These are skills I want my boys to have in abundance.
Mercy is not giving something one does deserve. We often speak of grace, but not often of mercy. Likely this is because mercy recognizes what we deserve. God demonstrated mercy by not giving us what we deserve because of what He gave us in His son. Do we live by mercy as much as we live by grace?
At my college the tradition engaged couples would ring the bell on the tower. The soon to be groom would then run for his life as his dorm mates, well… The soon to be bride would tell her tale to a chorus of amen’s, oops, I mean awww’s. This auspicious ceremony performed numerous times had a wake.
For those not engaged, desiring to be engaged, wondering if they’ll ever be engaged, each time the bell rang was painful. For those who recently broke up, it was even worse. The Bible says we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. Engagements were to be celebrated, and rightfully so.
The gift of silence
The Bible also describes mercy, grace, compassion and humility. While we had the right 10 years ago to celebrate in a way many have before us, we also had the ability to let that right go. The issue, for us, wasn’t we thought someone might suffer through it. We knew people who would suffer. There were other ways to celebrate, this one tradition we let slide.
Having the right to something doesn’t always mean you should exercise that right. Mercy, grace, compassion and humility often need us to give up rights. Not a legalistic jail of hypothetical maybe’s, but such is a knowledgeable act of compassion to people you know.
The question comes down to how much do you value people. It is easy to push people away for something you have a right to. It is easy to force your rights, and while entitled, may cause damage.In this lessons about God, the leadership in Israel missed; not just walk justly, but also show mercy and walk in humility. People matter.
The bottom line:
An act of mercy is often withholding something that we know may cause pain or suffering to someone else. Mercy is just as potent as grace, and the two are definite cousins. It may not be the fair thing to do, but it is the compassionate one.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~ Micah 6:8