“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
Working in ministry I get to meet a lot of people in and outside of the church. Surprisingly, I hear arguments AGAIST mercy especially to the poor. It is one thing to debate the method of mercy, but it is another to totally dismiss it all together. That is not biblical. Luke 4:18 Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Jesus was quoting Isaiah 61:1! Jesus’ earthly ministry was largely focused on the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed.
Mercy matters more than just acts of mercy. Mercy matters because Christ shows us mercy! Every person who places their faith in Jesus has already received His mercy and grace. It is NOT because you are awesome. It is because God is a loving and merciful God. While we were still sinners Christ died for us. The “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” argument is destroyed by this fact. We were dead to sin. No one pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, they received the greatest act of mercy in Christ. Mercy matters because it is an attribute of God, and part of loving one another is genuinely caring for them.
There are great Christian resources on how to best help people in need become self-sustaining. I believe the church can and should aim to disciple people out of poverty. I believe God can and does mobilize His church to holistically change people, neighborhoods, communities, and the world with the Gospel. Working at Mission: Possible! Austin, I have learned a lot about “development” ministry, or relationship-centered ministry. We care about people because God cares about us. Our motivation for ministry is to bring God glory and an act of obedience. We are able to love because He first loved us. Mercy matters because it transforms lives one relationship at a time.
-Written by Jon Rector