God is love - a Lenten series 4 compassion and justice

I may be labeled a liberal by my former fundagelical self, but I really don't like how much that label misses about my understanding of God. I prefer to be labeled a Compassionate Christian, because God's mercy triumphs over judgment according to James 2:13.

For example, the wandering pericope of the woman caught in adultery, in John's gospel (chapter 8) presents a woman caught en flagrante by religious lawyers. When presented to Jesus, the lawyers pointed out to Jesus that the religious law of Moses demanded her death by stoning. Jesus challenged those who were innocent, "without sin," to start throwing stones. They didn't and they left her with him. Then Jesus told her he did not condemn her.

The powerful ganged up on the powerless, an exercise of power, which had nothing to do with making the world a better place, but everything to do with asserting their dominance. Compassion, via the God who loves and is love, rights this imbalance. Compassion seeks justice to bring equity. As Jesus' mother prays in her magnificat,Luke 1:46-55

My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.

The peasant girl is lifted up, by the God who is merciful, who puts down the mighty and exalts the lowly. This is what compassion looks like. Jesus is not out to gang up on the weak, but to lift them up. The church continually grasps and loses sight of this mission. It constantly gives in to the temptation to seize power to hasten the mission, picking up stones, when the means is the mission. Compassion is fulfilled by compassionate means, not by power plays. Jesus fulfills his mission by not resisting the lynch mob. He triumphs over them by dying for them. He doesn't raise an army with swords, but an army of compassionate lovers of humanity.


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