Friday, January 18, 2013
A Merciful God
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Jesus continues to teach his disciples with many different stories but here there is a recurrent theme. The very nature of God is revealed in the first story of the woman who continues to bother the judge. He is an unjust judge but when the woman continually cries out to him, he takes care of her. God, who is just, always hears and responds to the cries of his children, because he is a loving, just and merciful Father. And because he is just, he comes to bring justice to those who are desperately in need.
The humble sinner -- the tax collector cries out for mercy. Why? Because he knows that he has been cheating -- and God responds to his sincerity and he receives mercy.
Finally we find the blind man on the side of the road. He cries out for "mercy." In other words -- God, please stop and show me some compassion -- have patience in who I am. And Jesus does stop and reaches out to him asking him what he wants. He wants to see. Jesus heals him and again the merciful God has reached out and physically touched wounded humanity.
It is the just God who shows mercy to his wounded children. The Pharisees were so proud of how they had lived their lives, but how in the world could these terrible sinners be shown mercy? Because somehow mercy and justice are linked together. Suddenly my mind went to the storyline of Les Miserables, "the miserable ones." Over and over again the poor and hungry were called criminals and thieves because they had stolen -- but what they had stolen often was bread or any kind of food to simply survive. There was no way out of their circumstance. The young lady sells her hair and even her teeth to try and feed her little daughter. And the wealthy looked down upon these poor souls in judgement and wondered why they were leading these terrible lives of crime. Because there was no option -- and I believe a merciful God will look down on those who have become caught in a vicious cycle which has no exit and he will show mercy. The real question is whether we, God's people will show mercy?
The story of "Les Mis" continues today. How do we judge the young teenage girl who shows up at a medical clinic with a terrible sexually transmitted disease? She has been working as a prostitute for the last year and her body is beginning the feel the ravages. And we look down on her. But should we? In many parts of northern Kenya young teenage girls are being forced into prostitution by their fathers. Why? Because the family is starving and there is no way for them to eat. Young girls can be sold to the traveling caravan of truck drivers who will trade a "trick" for a bottle of Coke or Fanta. Then, this girl takes the bottle of Coke to the local store and exchanges it for a loaf of bread. She takes this home to feed the starving members of her family. And we have the nerve to judge her for what she has done! What have we done? Have we shown mercy -- and has there been justice? Think about how easy it is for us to pick up a Coke, or a Diet Coke every single day. Just imagine that the one drink is worth a young girl's life. And I sit around leisurely drinking my nice iced Coke while judging this young girl for selling her body. No wonder mercy and justice are connected. Where is the justice here?
As followers of Jesus Christ we are being called into a life of transformation into the image of Jesus Christ. Yes, we serve a merciful God! Amen and thank you, Lord. We need God's mercy poured out on us, but at the same time we need to become a reflection of God's mercy to the world around us. The Pharisees couldn't see the need. Can we? If God's very nature is justice and mercy, as people who embrace the very holiness and nature of God, then we too become a people of justice and mercy. What we would want God to do for us, we must be willing to express to the world around us as well. Lord, have mercy!
Lord, I am so sorry for the times that I have not shown mercy. Please, help me to be your faithful servant, continually transformed into your image.