Saturday, April 5, 2014

Be Mercy-Full!? Not without God’s Mercy

My TIE Value: Be Still
Blessed are the Merciful for they will be shown Mercy- Matt 5:7

     We were making the familiar 12 hour trek to Colorado Springs to visit family during the March Break 1983. The trip was going quite normal until we got to New Mexico where the weather conditioned changed dramatically from spring to winter to blizzard. Just outside the fine town of Des Moines, NM population under 200.  White-out conditions caused the state police to shut down the highway. As the freak blizzard continued, snow drifts began to cover cars and the police began to funnel people to the local high school to stay overnight. Amazingly, within a few hours there were over 1,000 people in the high school.

     The locals were amazing. They helped people trapped in the storm make it to safety. They brought whatever food they could spare in order attempt to feed the large number of stranded people. Most of the food was in whatever came in a can. The school allowed people to use the classrooms, gym, and library to hunker down for the night. They heated the entire facility to a comfortable setting. The only doctor in town came and stayed at the school just in case any medical emergency should arise. The local officer gave updates on the road conditions as often as he received information.

     All in all the people of Des Moines showed mercy to travelers who would rather be somewhere else. They opened up their town and gave the stranded travelers all they could with their limited supplies and facilities. Yet, several travelers showed no appreciation to the mercy they were given. Throughout the night people complained about the money they were losing on their ski resort reservations. They made fun of the beans and hot dogs that were distributed in meager proportions. They criticized the facilities they were staying in because there were no provisions to make them comfortable.  They berated the officer for not letting them try to make it through the blizzard in their 4x4 vehicles. The town was nice but the travelers where mostly miserable.

     From this day forward I pondered this question. Why was there little or no gratitude given by those who received mercy?

My TIE Moment

If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:7-8)

     As the years have gone by, I am more and more convinced that it is humanly impossible to be mercy-full without appreciating God’s mercy. As people, we rather be on the side of giving than receiving mercy. We would rather provide shelter and protection to refugees in a war torn country than be made to live in such a tent city if the conditions were reversed. Most of us would rather give to a soup kitchen than depend on one. In fact, mercy in a human sense is mostly a top down relationship. Those who give mercy would rather not be in position to receive mercy. And those who receive mercy will take it but perhaps with less than a grateful attitude.  Therefore mercy is not even handed. There is a top and a bottom. It is better to be on top than the bottom any day

     Jesus tells us that we must learn what mercy is. I suspect that the reason we must learn what we do not fully understand. First of all we must respond to God’s mercy upon us. Only God can choose to whom is eligible to receive mercy (Ex. 33:18-19; Matt. 9:12-13).  And I am glad to say that the people that God chose to extend His mercy to all sinners.  Sinners of all nations, races, and eras are eligible of God’s mercy. The worst of sinners as well as the not so bad sinners are eligible for God’s mercy. While all sinners are eligible for God’s mercy only those who HAVE received God’s mercy will be freed from their sins that will lead to God’s eternal judgment.

     Second, we must relate God's mercy to our world by following Jesus' mercy-full response. Matthew 12:1-14 demonstrates how Jesus revealed how we respond to our world even on the holiest day of the week. The disciples were hungry on the Sabbath and ate corn from a field. Jesus reminded his religious critics that seeking nourishment is not to be excluded on the Sabbath. Then as Jesus entered the Synagogue a man with a deformed hand came to Jesus. This man's deformity would have made him an outcast of sorts where his hand would have to be hidden from view. Again his religious critics challenged Jesus’ healing of such a man on the holy day. Jesus communicated that it was God’s will to show mercy more than sacrifice and to do good and merciful works even on the Sabbath. In this passage that both Jesus’ followers and the outcast who received his mercy. While the religiously proud criticized the mercy given when in fact they also were in need of God’s mercy as well.

     Therefore, until we can learn how to receive mercy we can never fully experience the blessing of giving and receiving mercy from one another. The only way we can be Mercy-Full is to learn to receive God's mercy then mutually live in a mercy-full community with other believers and give out blessings of mercy to our world.

How are you learning to be Mercy-Full as God intended?

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