“Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 3-7
Look what has come to us!
Rich in mercy.
These words mean fully resourced and wealthy in the pity, compassion and readiness to help us in trouble.
What kind of God do you worship? An angry one? One to be feared? Does this fear make you think He punishes you and others? Is He a dormant volcano ready to explode? What you worship is what you become.
Psalm 113: 4-5 “God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies. Who can compare with God …” He is high but he stops low.
Mercy is more than sympathy, pity and forgiveness. It is that but it rushes past and out of those expressions. It is possible to sympathise, have pity and even forgive without doing anything. Mercy needs an act for it to be mercy.
Mercy is not self-seeking or trying to win an argument or prove a point. It is not trying to gain but is in fact accompanied by losing.
Those who show mercy look weaker in our aggressive culture. Mercy is needed today. But mercy has an enemy.
In an interview with a long-time friend, U2’s Bono, responded to the sometimes-stained reputation of the church throughout history:
“Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship”. (Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas)
The enemy of mercy is performance.
Performance will never lead to true discipleship.
The church has rules. Christians have rules. Things we have learnt over the years that if we do them prove we are good.
We step into performance the moment we behave as if Christianity brings man to God.
Even that sentence may cause some of us to have to read it again as it appears correct!
But central to Christianity is the truth that it is the story of God coming to man, every other religion has it the other way round. Sadly the church sometimes follows suit. For we all like a good performance.
God stooped low and came towards us rich in mercy. He loses so we win. I am of the undeserving when I think of His mercy towards me.
Made us alive.
A person can be so selfish they are dead to the needs of others.
A person can be so insensitive they are dead to the feelings of others.
A person can be so hopeless they are dead to their destiny.
A person can be so afraid their potential is dead.
The ancient touch of Jesus has never lost its power. Your environment may be dead but God makes us alive.
When Abram took Isaac up the mountain for the sacrifice he said to his servants, “We will return.” He knew what God could do. When Abram took the knife why didn’t Isaac scream?
It was because though Isaac didn’t understand what was in his father’s hand he knew what was in his father’s heart.
In the heart of God is life, resurrection life. Though undeserving He made us alive in Him.
In all that we do, all that we say and all that we write, whatever the context of our life, if we have received mercy then let’s give mercy and if we have been made alive then let’s not cut people down. Let us live what we have received from Him.