Every day that passes shows more and more the extreme levels of hatred swirling in our world. All of us are being affected by it and it adds considerably to the fear, frustration and loss of hope many people already feel.
In our last post we thought about the possibility that, in all we are going through, God may be asking us to reevaluate our lives and church communities in order that we realign our hearts with His. Our conclusion was that God’s primary purpose is that we come to a place where we adopt the ‘mind of Christ’ in all things and live from that place. But my question today is where will this lead and how can it begin to heal the disfunction we see in both our world and the church?
I have become convinced that adopting the ‘mind of Christ’ will lead us first of all to stand with him on Mercy Ground. If we need anything today we need to see people adopting a position of mercy in their dealings with one another. And if this is to start anywhere surely it should start with those of us who claim to have become recipients of God’s mercy ourselves! And it needs to because we have not been very good at standing on mercy ground with each other! In fact in another life I used to see more mercy among drunk people helping each other home on a Saturday night that I did in church on a Sunday morning!
Our problem is that in allegedly trying to reach a ‘lost world’ with the message of God’s mercy – we have been very selective about sharing it among ourselves. And actions speak louder than words. I have moved in church circles long enough to know this. If you are our flavour, agree with our theology, become a member of our denomination etc, etc, – then, perhaps, we will extend a measure of mercy to you. But if not woe betide you! I have written about my own experiences before regarding these things so no need to repeat them here. But it is a disgrace nonetheless. And it gives the lie to the belief that theological knowledge and theological correctness equates to godliness, mercy and grace. It also reveals the bankruptcy of believing that theological knowledge and prowess adequately fits one for a life of religious service and usefulness. Nothing could be further from the truth. But it is a lie which has been swallowed by millions who think they can better serve God because of it. I believe one of the places God wants to bring the church in these days of reflection is to see this lie for what it is, repent of it and seek his true heart! In case I am misunderstood I am not saying that theological knowledge is wrong in and of itself – of course it isn’t. But to elevate it above the things that are clearly revealed as being the primary passion of the heart of The Father certainly is.
At the centre of his being God is the – ‘Father of tender mercy’ (2 Corinthians 1:3 TPT). Jesus says – ‘Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy’ (Matthew 5:7 NKJV) and – ‘Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful’ (Luke 6:36 NKJV). David could sing – ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy’ (Psalm 103:8 NKJV) and even in days when his own people fail him terribly the call of The Father is still – ‘Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful’ (Joel 2:13 NKJV).
The ultimate place of mercy is at the foot of the cross. As we gaze on the suffering Christ – God himself in the flesh, bleeding and suffering for the sins of a rebel world – we are standing upon the most holy ground – and it is mercy ground. I doubt anyone would argue with this. I doubt that many would argue either that it is only when we stand at the foot of the cross and gaze at the incarnation of love, grace and mercy pouring out His life for ours that we ourselves can enter in to the forgiveness offered by the One who is giving himself for us. Only then can we say with the Apostle Paul – ‘I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20 KJV).
I can only become a ‘christian’ by standing on mercy ground. And I believe we can only live as ‘christians’ by walking on the road of mercy. But finding mercy is not the same as living mercy. In fact many, millions, who start out on mercy ground go on to be deceived into believing other things are more important. So many also believe that ‘service for God’ (whatever that is) – or making sacrifices for God is the ultimate way to please him. However, God himself says very clearly – ‘For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings’ (Hosea 6:6 KJV). The thing is you can know all about God, even have a Bachelor of Theology degree to prove it but yet not have the ‘knowledge of God’! But when you have the ‘knowledge of God’ you will be a merciful person because having such knowledge is to have ‘the mind of Christ’!
“The Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God’.