And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
I’m amaze by how often we put mercy and justice at opposite ends of a spectrum as if they are opposed to each other. Perhaps in the world without hope, this is necessary. But we live on the other side of the cross in a Kingdom where both exist in perfect harmony. We live in the Kingdom of God—with God who came to be with us.
Today I read the story of an Iranian mother who did something that moved me to worship the only God who makes such paradoxical grace possible. That is not to say that everyone who reflects God’s beauty is acting intentionally toward that end. That is one of the astonishing things about God.
Six years ago, Bilal Gheisari killed Samereh Alinejad’s son in a street fight. Slit his throat with a knife. He has been in prison awaiting execution while Alinejad has been dreaming of a justice that would ultimately take Gheisari’s life. Not long ago, Gheisari was led out to the gallows, put up on a chair, blindfolded, and a noose put around his neck. In this place it is the right of the family—if they choose—to not only be present, but to kick the chair out from under the convicted and condemned person.
On April 15, Alinejad walked slowly toward the gallows, with Gheisari’s family among the crowd of onlookers. A blindfolded Gheisari, weeping, begged her one last time.
“Forgive me, Aunt Maryam,” he pleaded, addressing Alinejad by the nickname by which she is widely known in the community. “Show your mercy.”
Alinejad moved in close, face to face, with Gheisari.
“Did you have mercy on us? Did you show mercy to my son?” she demanded. “You have taken happiness away from us. Why should I have mercy toward you?”
Alinejad stared angrily at him. Then she slapped him across the face. She and her husband slipped the noose off his neck, and with that move, Gheisari’s death sentence had been commuted.
As I read the article in the Dallas News website (and there is more to this story there than I have shared), I found myself overwhelmed in a new way at the grace of God extended to me. And I am challenged, again, to live my life in such a way that my responses, my actions, my declarations all reflect the beauty of God’s justice and mercy, for His great glory.