The seventh theme we are exploring for #MoreThanSunday is Justice.
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Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Podcast episode seven: Justice
Meet the contributors to this month's podcast, who share about their own faith and how justice shapes their discipleship journey.
Many of us look to the Beatitudes when we want to understand the heart of Jesus’ teaching. It is the manifesto of our faith. And they turn everything upside down. Often quite uncomfortably.
Walking in Jesus’ footsteps is a lifelong challenge. And for that lifelong challenge, perhaps we might try to understand afresh something about what mercy might mean in order to uncover a Christian understanding of justice.
Can you think of a time when you have received mercy? Perhaps from a loved one, or a friend, or when you have experienced the loving kindness of God – the compassion of Jesus – falling on you. If you have experienced mercy, unbounded forgiveness, seen the face of God in a stranger, then you have started to see justice as God does.
For almost ten years, I’ve volunteered as a magistrate in the criminal courts - first in Westminster and now in Manchester. The magistrates’ courts are the first courts that defendants come to after they have been charged, sometimes directly from the police station.
Being both a clergyperson and a magistrate is complicated. On the one hand, my judicial role forces me to make regular judgements, within the guidelines, about guilt and innocence, and about sentences for crimes. On the other hand, as a Christian, we are told to leave judgement up to God. I hope I am a merciful person both as a Christian and magistrate. Exercising mercy in the world does not mean that there is no consequence for our actions. What we do has consequences for ourselves, our relationships, and the environment in which we live.
Exercising mercy, from God’s standpoint, is different. Increasingly I see that the mercy of God is the justice of God. God’s forgiveness and grace is God’s mercy and God’s justice, it seems to me.
This is because the cross is an act of world-shattering mercy which entirely challenges our own understanding of what justice looks like. It is an act of mercy that God comes to be one of us, to bind our wounds, and make us whole. This is what we are to do as cross-shaped disciples. What can you do exercise mercy in your day-to-day life in order to seek justice as God sees it?
Mercy in action means not walking by on the other side when we see a homeless person. Why not take them a hot drink and spend 30 seconds having a natter?
Mercy in action means checking in on your neighbours when the weather gets cold.
Mercy in action means offering love without stopping to ask whether someone deserves it, including ourselves.
Every one of us is God’s child. And if we look around with eyes of mercy, act with hands of mercy, we will see each other as God sees us. We cannot talk of justice if we don’t see, live and act in the world with eyes of mercy. For that is how God sees me, and you.
The Rev’d Steven Hilton
- Volunteer for shifts at a Homeless shelter – www.greatertogethermanchester.org/homelessness
- Donate to your local food bank - http://greatertogethermanchester.org/find-support/food-banks/
- Write to your MP
- Sign a petition about an issue that you care about
- Learn more about what social action charities currently exist and how you and your church can support them
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