My thoughts this week have been about mercy. Part of what we do as a team for Nigeria is to show mercy. We believe in giving mercy to the two locations in Nigeria that our church is active in. We try to reflect Jesus Christ's love to the poor, sick and suffering there.
I've had several conversations with friends this week about the words mercy, evangelism and leadership. Everyone seems to agree we tend to want to put labels on people. We want things in a box. It's easier for us to understand that way. The English language seems so limiting. Or maybe it's the connotations that always pop in our heads instead of the definitions.
Jesus Christ defined who He was. He knew who He was because he defined himself as God did, not how other people did. Other people tried to label Him. But this did not get in His way. He knew His mission. He knew God's purpose for Him - and it wasn't in a box.
Jesus was sent to us by God to be a blessing. He came to heal us - to give us LIFE. He did not come to curse us. He wanted us to live our lives to the full - to have joy in Him. Another new definition for me, from scripture study, is for the word blessing - "to be blessed". I was told it meant - "to be joyful in the Lord". We cannot be truly joyful without Him. We get mixed up on this stuff.
When our team traveled to Nigeria last year, we noticed how the people we met at the Anawim Home and Faith Alive were so joyful. They felt they were blessed because they were joyful in the Lord. We go to support and encourage them in this both spiritually and physically. We want to help them take their joy to places more remote than their own communities, where people do not know true joy.
There was the popular saying awhile back, even on bracelets, "what would Jesus do?" "WWJD" I remember the response - it's not what would he do - it's what did he do? Just look it up some would say. It's all there.
I'd think. It is?!
Well I've been learning that it is true. And what I've learned is:
He was not a go with the flow kind of guy. He did not wait for what was politically correct.
He saw people as His brothers and sisters. As if they were His own family.
He spent His time with the rejected, left out, feeling like they don't belong people. He came for them. He came to save the lost.
Anyone who has ever made a difference in my life has shown me mercy, including a lot of people at Nativity. Mercy, to me, was when anybody gave me maybe a little extra of their time. People who gave me encouragement and support. People who recognized the lost little girl. People who just knew somehow that I was feeling enormous pain. The list is way too long. These people were merciful, even if they don't see themselves that way. They were evangelizing, even though they would never think of it this way. They were definitely showing leadership by stepping out of the crowd, even if they never think of themselves that way.
A recent example - someone just gave me some time - someone who doesn't have a lot of time. He doesn't think he's especially merciful. He knows he's an evangelist and he is a leader. I have been told I have a lot of mercy. Yet here was this man at Starbuck's meeting with me. He listened to me, offered me support and encouragement and even connected me to other people for my passion to help the Nigerian people. I am no one in worldly success - in the "world's eyes" nor am I a best friend, yet he gave me the same time, respect and consideration as if I was a CEO. Remember our church's added value homily? It's one of my favorites. Can we treat people as if we know they will add value to our lives? Can we stop seeing people as "needy" and taking away from our time? Can we appreciate people who are not just like us and who are not already our friends? The Nigerian trip definitely helped me with this - on an every day basis.
I think I've learned what real mercy is.