I know I wrote a post a long time ago about mercy, but I feel the need to revisit this important call of Christ. Tonight I am having trouble sleeping, so I decided to read some news and see what is going on in the world. This is usually a big mistake, as there is little reporting of uplifting events. Tonight especially, I was stuck hard by the harsh, unforgiving nature of people across the globe. I used to believe in the term desensitization; no more. To claim that we pass judgement, ignore attrocities, and allow sin because of this word is simply untrue. We do these things because humanity is sinfully separated from God.
I read an article that talked about Eric Rudolph and his impending conviction. For those of you who don’t know, this is the man who is responsible for the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta, two bomings at abortion clinics, and a bombing at a lesbian nightclub. After 5 years of running, he was caught in 2003 and has been awaiting trial since. He has agreed to a plea bargain in order to avoid the death penalty, and will spend the rest of his life in jail without the possibibility of parole.
His crimes are heinous. Does he deserve punishment? I believe so. Do I think taxpayers should support his prison life? Not really. Does he deserve to die?
It is this last question that bothers me so greatly. As it would happen, most people involved would say yes. I would ask this in response. Have we become so depraved as humans that the only recourse we can see as a proper response to murder is death? According to the husband of one of Mr. Rudolph’s victims (who was left blind in one eye, but remains otherwise unharmed), “As they say, let the punishment fit the crime. That was a death sentence.” This, for the loss of an eye.
Yes, two people have died in his attacks, and yes he is a terrorist. Yes, I believe he deserves to be punished, and life in prison will be that punishment. But again, do I think he deserves to die for it? Though my lust for vengence would cry yes, my heart cries a resounding NO. Is life so cheap that we are willing to toss it away without even the slightest hint of Mercy?
It happened to our Lord. And it happens today.
Some might say I have lost my mind. That I have just betrayed the Isaac that they know who believes in justice, self-sacrifice, defending one’s family and country, and the like. But though I believe in those things, I have a greater belief in the God of mercy who, though I was condemned to a sentence of death for my transgressions, loved me enough to overturn that sentence through an act of loving sacrifice found in Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what else to say, but that I pray that we will rediscover the mercy that God has granted us, that we might in turn pass it on to others. I have to believe there is still hope for us, and for Eric Rudolph.