Made for another world

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can There Be Too Much Mercy?

I have a new obsession. It's the mercy of God. I need it, want it, love it, don't understand it, trip over it. 

The more I stare at the beauty of mercy the more I feel it scrub away the scabs of judgement, stinging my conscious, exposing the new skin of a stripped down pharisee.

Some days I still stumble over the old pattern, tasting the crunch of critical words on my tongue. But it isn't long until I look for the stream of mercy to wash the bad taste from my lips.

It's like an addiction. How far will mercy go? I've dabbled in faith before, believing from my recliner, tucked in the early morning with my stack of devotionals. I've heard of mercy that consumes but doesn't burn up, a mercy that leads out nations. 

I want to see it.

Not from the comfort of my recliner, but from the discomfort of the red light district and divorce court. From the squeeze of the psychiatric ward, and in the challenge of another language. Perhaps, most miraculously of all, I want to see it in the extravagant embrace of a fellowship of Christians who don't skimp on handing it out, because they know they're really handing out life.

My heart quakes at moments when I realize what I've asked. To see God on the move, stretching out a banner of mercy over the nations. My legs could never keep up on such a journey. So I pray I will trust him to carry me. Because I'm determined to see what he's about. I understand the fear of God in a new way now. God is scary in his fierce mercy, there is no one he won't touch, or ask me to touch.

I ask myself, can mercy be too extravagant, can there be too much mercy? The fearful, of which I was one, say yes. I recognize the slip from breathless faith to robust religion. It comes from not looking in the mirror enough. The mirror of God's standard, and recognizing how woefully we measure up, and then the quick intake of breath as we realize that mercy never runs out and it's still here to kiss us hello in the morning. It can bring me to tears in a heartbeat.

And in that heartbeat I realize that lavishing mercy on another woeful beggar can never make me unholy, quite the opposite. Did Jesus lose holiness when a prostitute lavished his feet with her kiss, quite scandalously, in public? No, his glory shone all the more. Mercy, breathing in, pouring out.

Mercy never loses the hard edge of holiness. It makes it attainable.

Jesus was never made less holy by embracing the tax collector, conversing with well women, rubbing shoulders with the possessed, leprous, loud mouthed, riotous, dirty, immoral, or heathen. And he wasn't made holy because he obeyed every law, and observed every holy decree. He was, he is, holy because he is himself. And in the touching of others he wasn't soiled, they were made clean.

Can there be too much mercy? Never! Now is the time for mercy and we should never fear handing it out like water, living water. Because we're made holy by Jesus' presence in us and his presence always brings mercy!

Who are you most afraid of giving mercy to? Who have you received mercy from, did it make a difference? 

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