Difficult Questions

I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems to me that the further I travel along the Christian path, the more difficult the questions I have to ask myself become.  In a previous blog, I wrote about the diaries of Dorothy Day–Duty of Delight (the Diaries of Dorothy Day) edited by Robert Ellsberg –Book Review.  I found myself convicted by her statement that we love God only as much as that person we like the least.  How much is that if I am truly honest?

Currently I’m reading a book by Dr. Derwin L. Gray entitled, The Good Life.  (You’ll be seeing a review of it shortly).  It focuses on the beatitudes.  Here are some questions he poses in his section on mercy:

  • Who is your greatest enemy?
  • Who has hurt you the most?
  • How do you feel about those who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum from your position?
  • What people group of a different ethnicity or socioeconomic status do you hold ill will toward?

And then of course, the big question — if God loved me and offered me forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy when I was His enemy, How can I not do likewise?  Consider these verses from the book of Romans:

“For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”  Romans 5:10

Is this easy?  Of course not.  It’s not easy to put aside fear of those who are different, to forgive the person who hurt you, to show mercy to someone who harmed you.  But going to the cross wasn’t easy for Jesus, either.  However, that’s exactly what we’re called to do.  To love others, not just in word, but in deed.  Not necessarily the warm, fuzzy feeling of love that comes and goes, but the charitable love that is patient, compassionate and thinks the best of others. (Charity = Love)

Sounds good, but how do we do this in practical terms? The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies — so pray.  Not just for enemies in general, but that particular person you feel unable to tolerate.  Pray not that they will change, but that things will go well for them.  We’re also called to do good to those who harm us.  In other words, get to know them, and let them know you.  Their perspective may change, and so may yours.

Well, I’ve talked long enough and now I’d like to hear from some of you, readers and authors.  What are the difficult questions you’re struggling with?

 

 

 

 

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner–Book Review

I recently read another book by this Susan Meissner, and liked it so much I decided to try another.  This one also did not disappoint. It deals with the lives of three women:  Mercy, who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials;  Abigail, the relative who has inherited her diary;  and Lauren, a college student Abigail hires to transcribe Mercy’s journal.

There’s mystery, romance and even some history.  In dealing with the diary, the two main characters (both from wealthy families) come to face and deal with the problems caused by:

“… privilege and what we find easy to believe about people we don’t know.”

Erroneous assumptions about others leads to regrets, awkward moments and misunderstandings which are ultimately forgiven.  Through Mercy’s story, both Abigail and Lauren grow in self awareness and face some unpleasant truths about themselves.  They also realize it is never too late to change.

Once again the author incorporates the faith of her characters seamlessly into the narrative.  To learn about another book by this author, follow this link:

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

VERDICT:  5 stars.  A well-written light read– you’ll enjoy it!

 

Blessed Are the Merciful by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ These men without possessions or power, these strangers on Earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship