July 24, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“And what does the Lord require of you? He requires you to act justly. He requires you to love mercy. He requires you to walk humbly with Him. [These are not mere suggestions!].” (Micah 6.8)
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become [clothed with] the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5.21)
Micah declared that which was the Word of the Lord for the righteousness of Israel and all those who choose to follow God’s call in and on their lives. In a world that begged the question “How will we know who is one of us in the culture, climate and context of being God followers and within the community of faith,” Micah referred to God’s answer. That answer stipulated three requirements to validate one’s faith commitment to be one of God’s people. To strive to meet those three requirements would satisfy the “Law and the Prophets” which were summed up in the Great Commandment to “love God with all one possessed and to be neighborly to those around you in the world.” Regardless of one’s worldly wardrobe, the “three piece suit of righteousness” was the preferred dress code for the faithful. The first piece we reflected on yesterday which was: to act justly. In being “totally fair,” we act justly was no act at all. We know plenty of people in our own world who “act” justly. Appearances and announced intentions are but vapors that dissipate in the wind of controversy. To “act” justly meant that one’s actions and intentions were based on faith in God for the good of all people to His glory. God extends the same mercy, grace, trust and love to everyone. There is no hierarchy in God’s love any more than a good parent loves one child more than another. So, in this environment of requirements, Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Father, forgive us as we forgive one another.” Sadly, as I have taught in the past, people all too often do exactly that and do not understand why they cannot experience the forgiveness of God in their lives. If we don’t forgive then how can we be expected to be covered with forgiveness. If we do not truly love ourselves, then how can we love God, the neighbor, the enemy and our faith family? There is justice and we decide it for ourselves. Why blame God?
But, to act justly is but one requirement. The second requirement of securing our identity as a lover of God, and consequently being a follower of the Way of Christ- Jesus of Nazareth, is to love mercy. Have you ever considered falling in love with mercy. If justice is about meting out love and forgiveness to all people in equal measure and with singular intention then we must embrace the requirement of doing so with a love for mercy. Mercy is that which is granted to us for our freedom from death which is the penalty of our sin and sinfulness. Before Paul wrote “for all have sinned and fallen short of the intended glory of God,” Micah shared the truth from God which dictated that we all stand in the need for mercy. And we must further understand that this mercy is “unmerited favor” as there is nothing but throwing ourselves before the Judgment Seat, confessing our sin and professing our sincere desire to live a changed life from the inside out. This mercy is granted from the very heart of God who has made His commitment to redeem, reconcile and restore His people who He created and pledged His love to sacrificially. God is merciful, therefore, His people should be merciful as well. We have been extended mercy. We have been given mercy. Mercy gives us that second (or more) chance to live life as it was meant to be in spite of the dire circumstances we find ourselves in, the unfortunate manifestations caused by a broken world in our life and the temptation to believe that there is another way to live successful and gain eternity apart from trusting, believing, serving and worshipping God. We must “love” mercy. We need to fall in love with the fact that God has been merciful. This is not Jesse’s “Have mercy!” declaration in amazement. This is the drive us to our knees gratitude because eternal death no longer has a hold on us. We may be in the palm of its hand but it cannot hold us from who and whose we are. We push back the bony fingers of death’s grasp and reach through to the nail-scarred hands reaching down and out to us. This is our “Got mercy!” declaration of gratitude. And our love for the mercy given should become so powerful in our lives that it spills over the top of our lives as a glass filled with the everflowing and overflowing living water Christ offers to us as He did the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. To “love mercy” is made tangible by our desire to make it the valued gift of new life in right relationship we offer to one another. It comes from forgiveness. It comes in being forgiving. If we know the joy of our salvation and the freeing up of our soul out of the very pits of hell, then why wouldn’t we want others to experience it with us. Wouldn’t we want our enemies especially to know it and become transformed? Jesus died for the sins of God’s people. God sacrificed Him so that all might be saved and know how much He loves mercy. His mercy is good and endures forever. His hope is eternal that we each will come to know the truth, see its vitality, receive it gladly and share it abundantly. To be “clothed in righteousness” is receiving the new robe and the new crown (as described in the Book of Revelation) before we even get there. We are being clothed now for Heaven to come. We are to be adorning ourselves in anticipation of the Grand Wedding. We are to prepare ourselves to not only attend the wedding but be “as the Bride,” the Church, for whom Jesus returns to take home with Him forever. Now Jesse can say it, “Have mercy!” Let’s say it, too.
My question in closing is this: How well do we love, mighty ones of God and followers of the Way of Christ- Jesus of Nazareth? Have mercy? Be merciful! Love one another and He who loves us has been merciful and just in His love for us. Shalom.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Dear God, Heavenly Father, You who has loved us fairly, justly and with mercy, hear this our prayer of gratitude. Our desire is to put off the rags of this world and to put on the robes of Your Kingdom on earth as it is and will be in Heaven. You have made such a covering for us as You did for Adam and Eve so they might not be validated by shame, pursued by blame but live wholly in the name of the One True God. There is no other way to live life and gain the closeness of Your Presence forever. We commit ourselves to sharing this good news for others. Trust us to be givers of robes, clothers of souls and proclaimers of a love that never fails to accomplish what it is set to reach. We ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.