Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blessed are the Merciful

Church Service in West, TX
Last week's bombings in Boston and fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX, along with a sudden death in our church fellowship have sent many of us who are Legacy Church reeling in sadness.

Loss is a part of life, but we stagger out of them after events shatter what we think is 'normal' or take loved ones from us. We can't just write loss off as "that's the way life is" or act like they didn't happen. We must wrestle through them, but how we respond to those loses makes the difference in how we live the rest of our lives.

Our natural response to loss at the hands of others is revenge and justice. Innocent people died at the hands of calculating, evil men. We want justice for the lost lives. We want somebody to do something. Now!

In the middle of the loss of innocent life and injustice perpetrated in his day, Jesus declared, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy." (Matthew 5:7) Those words seemed as out of place in a discussion of brutality and evil then as it does now. But Jesus knew what we forget: revenge breeds revenge. Justice insists we seek fairness, which can seldom be achieved. 

Jesus told stories where mercy expressed in forgiveness is the way of his kingdom. (Matthew 18:23-35) He gently scolded a religious leader for missing the point of a woman's act of kindness motivated by mercy shown to her by God. (Luke 7:36-50)

Why is mercy so important in our lives and followers of Jesus? I have observed, "Mercy describes the heart of God. Mercy is at the center of the Good News. Mercy satisfies a debt we cannot pay that is forgiven by the One we owe." (A New Way of Living, 156) 

Mercy motivates God to forgive. Paul wrote his friend, Titus, "...he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:5

Mercy, not revenge, is the way of God. Justice has been taken care of on the cross of Jesus. God satisfies our thirst for justice through Jesus' death on the cross. (Romans 3:21-26) We seek justice on earth as an expression of the suffering, sacrificial love of God--not motivated by revenge or anger.

Jesus blessed the merciful, and he promised that they would receive mercy--maybe not from those they forgive, but surely from the God who has forgiven them. "To show mercy is to receive mercy," I wrote. (A New Way, 158)  

Remember this as you face the loss of these days and want to do something in response to them. Mercy is the Jesus Way.

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