by Lisa McHeard
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3 ESV
There’s not much mercy in the world today. We’ve become a judgmental, cruel and hateful society. So many things divide us: political party, race, age, denomination, gender, country of origin. These days it’s more about the fight than the issues at hand. We forget that there are real people on either side of every argument and we lose sight of who our true enemies are.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
God shows us great mercy even while we are still his enemies. He willingly endures our blatant sinfulness until we surrender to salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ. Then, he opens wide the Throne Room of Grace to our bitter, myopic, self-serving prayers, and patiently considers the heart issues behind our complaints. His unceasing mercy opens the possibility of new life for us, a living hope that is sturdier and more enduring than the earthly strongholds we erect. In loving kindness, he crosses our high walls of sinful arrogance, inviting us to experience his peace and rest. He shows us a great kindness by considering us valuable as persons and not writing us off because our corrupt opinions do not match his truth.
Mercy like that should fill us so full that we can’t help but spill it over into the lives of those we struggle with. Their words may be rough and their opinions faulty, but so were ours before we came to Christ. In fact, if we aren’t careful, we can end up sounding just like them. If we are going to effectively communicate living hope, then we need to let go of life-taking practices, like arguing about things we have little control over anyway. We must be willing to move past the things that divide us and stand firm footed on the ground we share in common. Godly mercy crosses every line we draw in the sand against each other. It sees disagreements as opportunities for deeper understanding. It grasps the truth of the fact that our greatest power is unleashed when we are united in diversity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When that becomes our singular focus, then all our senseless arguments come to an end.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:11-14 ESV
Dear Lord, forgive us when our hard-hearted treatment of one another hides your profound love and mercy; when we are too wrapped up in our own image to remember that we are bearers of yours. When we are tempted to join the unholy voices that declare war on one another on rickety soap boxes, through social media, or even in the pulpit, bind our lips with the thread of your own kindness and mercy toward us. Strike our angry, embittered voices dumb, as your Holy Spirit replaces our words with saving truth.
Lisa McHeard serves as Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the New York State Presbytery of the PCA. She loves writing and is presently completing a devotional on the Gospel of Mark. Lisa is married to Ken McHeard, senior pastor of Duanesburg Reformed Presbyterian Church, where she serves joyfully at his side.