Sunday, February 02, 2014

Immovable, enduring mercy: Christ's call to follow

"His mercy endures forever." 
1 Chronicles 16:34
1 Chronicles 16:41
2 Chronicles 5:13
2 Chronicles 7:3
2 Chronicles 7:6
2 Chronicles 20:21
Ezra 3:11
Psalm 106:1
Psalm 107:1
Psalm 118:1,2,3,4,29
Psalm 136:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26
Jeremiah 33:11
If God does not change, if his mercy endures forever, if His grace towards the world is established in the act of creation, if emotion is not a defect but a perfection, if God's emotion is not subject to outside influence but is firmly established and decided immovably -- founded on his very nature and essence -- then we have a sure foundation on which to stand. We base our hope in God's unchanging nature, his mercy which endures forever -- which has shown itself in this world in Jesus.

But if God is for the redemption of his creation -- each of us -- then what does that mean for us when we set ourselves against someone? When we decide we despise someone, do we find ourselves at odds with God's purposes to redeem? Are we free to determine ourselves to be enemies of another person? Are we entitled to hold a grudge?

We can be eager to look for times when God was angry, because it justifies our anger. When it comes to God, even God's anger towards us is directed towards justice and redemption, to wake us from our foolishness and short-sightedness, from our proud and self-serving and destructive ways. Our own anger is not that noble. For every time we justify our anger by an appeal to God, how often have we justified our own forgiveness or kindness or patience by an appeal to God? The difference speaks volumes of whether we seek to be like God, or whether we seek to use God to justify ourselves.

God calls us to take up that same determination to redeem that we find in him:
"Turn the other cheek"
"Bless those who curse you"
"Return good for evil"
The reason darkness seems to be gaining the upper hand right now is because our light is not shining. If we repaid good for evil, there would always be as much good as there is evil. The reason there is more cursing than blessing right now is that we do not bless those who curse us. If we did, there would always be as much blessing as there is cursing.

We are called to take up mercy and redemption as immovably as God. We cannot afford to think of this in a shallow way, as if mere optimism will win the day. The battlefield is no place for wishers and dreamers and untrained children. St. Paul compared us to soldiers -- someone who has dedicated himself to a cause, who has given serious training to his endurance, who has practiced those hardships that can be expected, who has learned to tackle an obstacle course.

What does a spiritual obstacle course look like? Pretty much like our everyday lives, I'd expect. I could use some more training on how not to stumble on some obstacles.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

"even God's anger towards us is directed towards justice and redemption!"