It is incredibly encouraging to see a generation awakening to issues of social justice. Young idealists and dreamers are channeling their ample creativity, energy, and passion towards the poor and oppressed of our world. Even if (when) the celebrity culture loses focus and moves on to the next frontier of the carefully cool, I believe an impassioned core of committed will remain.
This renewed thrust is a return to our roots. Social justice is a proud part of our holiness heritage, a mark of the Wesleyan movement. Not to mention a central concern in the legacy of a man named Jesus.
But lately I’ve begun to wonder if justice alone is enough. We are compelled to fight for justice on behalf of those who have been denied it. But shouldn’t we fight for more than justice? Is there a step beyond it?
I believe that the ‘more’ is mercy.
Mercy and justice are not the same. They are two sides of the same coin… partners in an intimate and intricate dance, each taking the lead when appropriate…they embrace…they kiss. But they are not the same. A beautifully compatible contradiction.
Justice is fair. Mercy is anything but.
Justice sets things right. Mercy sets things free.
Justice establishes equality. Mercy unleashes extravagant love.
Justice wins for us our rights. Mercy gives us more than we deserve.
Justice is spreading the wealth. Mercy is emptying the purse.
Justice is concrete. Mercy is mysterious.
Justice is the cause. Mercy is the motive.
So, let’s coin a new call: Social Mercy.
A call to set right the laws of man, while setting loose the love of God.