James 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Mer·cy: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Here’s my checklist from James so far: √ endurance and √ need. Next on the list is √ mercy. We learn what it means to endure when we become completely aware of our need for Jesus to work out within us what God has promised. Even before we “came to our senses” and spoke our own commitment to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was at work revealing our need to do just that. Walking into the arms of Jesus wasn’t an act of our own making. Those words we spoke were the result of God’s mercy seeping into the cracks of a stony heart and triumphing over judgment, his and ours.
Mercy is the beginning of our own baptism into the Kingdom of God. Shared mercy has other benefits that are just as real. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Love, Jesus
John 17:9 – Jesus’ prayer to his Father
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”
I do understand that Christ is God’s gift to me. I understand how important what I learn from Jesus is to my life’s purpose and quality. I understand my image relates to his impact in this world. …But I’ve also been well trained by life that I have to do what’s necessary to prepare well so I can be a credit to Christ as his follower.
That’s what makes this one little phrase so very special. What I am prepared to do is not the reason I’m related to Christ. It’s not that I’m a student, or because he improves the quality and purpose of my life, or even because I want to be his companion, although those thing are surely true. I am under the prayerful protection of Christ today simply because God has given me to him. I am God’s gift to Jesus!!! Wow, think of it, you are God’s gift to Jesus too!!! We can appreciate all the things our heart leads us to do for Christ but this is the most important thing we’ll ever have to offer back to him..to simply Be The Gift!
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. 16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. 18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
I’m a knitter and one of the fads in the last couple of years has been the mobius scarf which is knit as a continuous circle with a twist in it. It uses a particular method of knitting that actually begins with a double ring cast-on row joined as a circle in the center of the scarf. As you knit you are adding rows to each side of center without ever turning your work or doing anything other that just knitting round and round over and over.
A mobius can be made with a strip of paper with one twist and the ends taped together to form a circle. If an ant were to crawl along the edge of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traveled the entire length of both top and bottom edges of the original strip without ever crossing over the width of the paper strip and not really going anywhere at all. When I read Solomon’s words of frustration, they reminded me of that poor ant on the mobius; going round and round, over and over, without really going anywhere at all.
I have a theory about Solomon’s desire to try to figure everything out. It goes back to the Garden of Eden. I think that’s where his frustration began and ours too. The moment those first two people decided they could take access to God’s protected knowledge, everything changed for all of us. The linear journey God had planned for his creation – to walk beside him all our life into possibilities and fullness stretching out before us, got twisted into a mobius-like cycle instead.
That’s just my theory and my own quirky observation but I think there may be truth there. Here’s undisputed New Testament truth from Jesus himself though, in John 10:10 “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.”
Goodby mobius! Hello possibilities!
I Timothy 4:14-16
14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON
“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.”
Bonhoeffer’s description of worldliness is not the dismal, possibly even evil, description that would have come to my mind. The world is God’s creation. He has not given up on it. We are His people in the world. How did it happen that “living completely in this world” became a bad thing? Maybe it’s time to rethink just what Jesus’ prayer on our behalf in John 17:15 really means. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Isn’t that our clue that we should have the courage to embrace our world absolutely?
Life is all about continuing to discover how to live our life in Christ in the midst of life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. It’s the effort that diligence requires that makes our words begin to take on meaning that actually changes us. That change becomes visible evidence to those around us that something special is happening.
Maybe Bonhoeffer got it right that the world is the place God created where “one learns to have faith.” Paul urges us to “give yourself wholly” and persevere in that effort to get it right. Jesus’ prayer should give us the assurance to throw ourselves unreservedly into HIS kind of faith-building worldliness. May it be so Lord.