Who Needs Mercy?
Shortly after his grandiose descent on the gold-plated escalator in his self-named tower, Donald Trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness. Trump said:
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”(http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/)
Trump’s largely fact-free campaign of inflated statistics, exaggerated half-truths, and over-blown self-aggrandizement combined with his thin-skinned reaction to even the slightest suggestion that he might need to apologize for anything have largely demonstrated the truth of that confession.
The problem, of course, is that there is something of Donald Trump in all of us. It’s not easy for any of us to acknowledge that we can’t make everything right by our own actions. Sooner or later, we all need forgiveness that is unearned, grace that is undeserved, and mercy that “trumps” our self-confident assurance in our own power and goodness.
When it comes to describing mercy, it’s hard to improve on Shakespeare:
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven…
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. (“The Merchant of Venice,” Act 5)
Ask for the Bleeding Charity
In The Great Divorce
, C. S. Lewis tells the story of a bus-load of residents from Hell who take a day-trip to Heaven. One Trump-like guy whom Lewis calls the Big Ghost — and who could be a lot like all of us — thumps his chest and says, “Look at me, now…I done my best all my life see…I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anyone’s bleeding charity.”
His Heavenly guide responds, “Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and absolutely nothing can be bought.” (Note the way Lewis used caps to personify the Bleeding Charity.) That’s mercy. That’s grace.
On Good Friday we stand beneath a rugged, Roman cross where the mercy of God trumps (“to win by playing a card from the suit that beats the other suits”) all of our selfish pride and humbles us before a love we cannot earn or control.
The old hymn (you can sing along with it here.
) gets it right:
Upon that cross of Jesus
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One
who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.
On this Good Friday, I pray that each of us — including Mr. Trump — will ask for the Bleeding Charity and experience the undeserved mercy, the extravagant grace, the unbounded love that was poured out for us at the cross.
Grace, peace and mercy be yours,