It’s a well known fact. Biologists tell us that sharks can smell blood from 2-3 miles away. They follow their noses to the place where they sense it. They have an ‘attack mechanism’ to anything that is vulnerable. Blood acts as a trigger inside their brains. Occasionally dozens of sharks attack in a feeding frenzy that can be pretty horrific.
Almost 40 years in the Church has taught me that sharks aren’t the only ones that turn on the wounded. The Church was supposed to be a safe and a healing place. This is what the Holy Spirit wants. That isn’t always the case.
Someone fails, another falters. Sin is uncovered and everyone takes cover. Many people who could have been restored are instead trampled down, and there are many who would rather “kick” than pray. But there is almost always an escalation that creates even more blood in the water.
There are many who bleed. Those with a mental illness, or confined to a wheelchair, or with Downs Syndrome. The developmentally disabled, the drunk, the addict, the divorced, the adulterer, the homosexual, and the poor, the ex-con are just several kinds of people that regularly get hurt in our churches.
“God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.”
Matthew 5:7, NLT
Mercy is what God extends to people who don’t deserve any. Failure to understand God’s deep penchant for mercy is the first step into religious confusion. Keep in mind that the Prodigal’s older brother refused to party with the forgiven son. How terribly sad.
In theory, we agree. We find tremendous inspiration when this verse is read. But the noble feelings do not always translate well into dedicated action. I have come to see that I must consciously press this into action. I must actively show mercy for the healing of others– and to protect my own heart.
The Kingdom of God is designed for losers; you could say it exists for the sick, the infirm, the sinner.
The Great Physician has come for the sick– and not so much for the healthy. He loves each of us, but cares in different ways.
If there is blood in the water, let’s turn it up a notch, and show special mercy for those who are struggling. Let us be kinder than we have to be. If we err— let us always err on the side of mercy and kindness.
Father, please help me be full of mercy as I touch those who are in pain. I ask that you would make me sensitive and alert to each one on this path. –Amen.
- 3.15.2013 Mercy Material / Clay and Wax (rebellred.wordpress.com)
- Millstones and Mitres: Recovering the Lamb by Forgiving the Wolf (newevangelizers.com)
- Humans still more of a threat to sharks than they are to us (newsfixnow.com)
- Shark shock: Swimmer killed by four great whites near beach packed with schoolkids (mirror.co.uk)
- Trapped in a shark feeding frenzy (thesun.co.uk)
- Swimmer killed in shark attack at New Zealand beach (whas11.com)