some reflections on justice, mercy & forgiveness

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I linked to this story (via NPR) on Facebook earlier this month. It tells the story of Julia Diaz, a man who whilst being mugged, opted to react differently than you would assume.

When I was a kid, I used to imagine what I would do if I was being mugged or under threat. I used to imagine performing some martial arts on them (imagine being the keyword as being Chinese does not automatically grant me Kung-Fu prowess). Or else I’d imagine jumping off the wall and parkouring my way to safety (also only in my imagination because my 10cm vertical leap would only allow me to jump over a shoe.) But never once did I imagine that in those situations I would be able to show compassion, consideration, or even love.

I’ve come to realise that in those situations I am driven more by fear. And that fear makes my first reaction self-preservation. I am more inclined to defend myself or my possessions.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

I used to imagine that that verse was meant only for myself. I mean, it was a personal love. That God’s personal love would cast out fears within me. But I’m understanding more now that God’s perfect love does cast out fear. I will live my life without fear if I live it in God’s love.

It’s why Jesus could go to the cross.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The act of surrender to God means that we no longer have to live in fear. It’s not our lives we are trying to maintain or protect. But there’s a freedom that we receive when our lives are submitted to God’s love.

These are the questions I’m asking myself:
Why am I afraid? In what area of my life am I placing faith in myself, instead of faith in you? If I cannot love my neighbour, am I still too busy preserving myself?

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