The God Impulse

The God Impulse
The Power of Mercy in an Unmerciful World
(Baker Publishing, 2018)

WHO: Jack Alexander, chairman of the Reimagine Group.

HE SAYS: “When we show mercy and truth in a relational context, the power of the gospel is augmented and multiplied.”

THE BIG IDEA: When we respond with truth clothed in mercy, the connections between us, God and our neighbors will grow and strengthen.

Drawing on the story of the Good Samaritan, the author shows the powerful impact we can have when we follow Jesus’ example of mercy.
Part 1, “See: The Disposition of Mercy,” examines the biblical text to show how the Good Samaritan saw and “felt” mercy for the beaten enemy. Part 2, “Go: The Discovery of Mercy,” discusses the importance of getting close enough to others to discover their needs.
Part 3, “The Displacement of Mercy,” looks at how the Good Samaritan did what was just and right for the man and how we should displace ourselves in service. The final part of the text, “Endure: The Discipline of Mercy,” explains how we are kept engaged by the discipline of mercy.

“We have seen how the arms of mercy can wrap around the hurting and helpless, fellow sinners and even our enemies. We can, in our own special ways, pick up others and carry them home.”

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How could pastors best communicate the concept of mercy so that congregations really get it?

We are broken and we live in a sinful, broken world. Biblical mercy is the intersection of kindness and relief that others and we receive when we least deserve it. In a Barna study that I commissioned, Barna found that truth is held high but that congregations had a “lite” view of mercy in that it engaged hearts for the poor much more than for people who had sinned against us. A large percentage of Christians surveyed said that there was someone in their life they could not forgive. Finally, there are perhaps more promises and rewards for those who practice mercy than for anything else we could do.

The “currency” of our faith is predicated on mercy and forgiveness. It is my passion that people see both the risks of not forgiving and the rewards of pursuing mercy.

How have you experienced God’s mercy in your own life?

I am a partner in the recent film I Can Only Imagine, which demonstrates a son’s ability to show mercy and forgive an abusive father. I cry when I watch the film because I see the mercy that God granted me but also the kindness from my wife, my three sons and an array of friends that God has put in my life.

Why do so many Christians fail to see the power of mercy in their own lives?

This is a great question. Most people understand the cross and the power of mercy in their salvation. In two years, I have found very few people who understand the power of mercy on a daily basis. Mercy is messy and costly. Jesus promises that he will intervene in your life with special daily mercies for you when you are merciful to the poor, distressed, sinners and enemies. This is why he said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” Our own brokenness is easy to hide; it’s courageous to love and lean in to another’s brokenness. We can receive healing in doing this. God is close to the brokenhearted; we can be, too.