Monday, August 31, 2015

Car Ride Theology

One of the things I love most about getting the opportunity to drive Cava to school and pick him up from school in the afternoon is that time to just be with him, get to know him better, and listen to whatever he wants to talk about or the questions he has. We tend to listen to Christian music and this has often led to him asking about what he is hearing and he does listen. He has asked me, "What does mercy mean?"

Now I love language: both the meaning of words and where those meanings originally come from. Mercy is a noun. According to the dictionary it means: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

That's not an easy word for any of us to wrestle with when he have to extend mercy, compassion, or forgiveness to someone we would much rather get back at. This is especially true for a child who has grown up in the orphanage system where there was no mercy or compassion extended to anyone. It was each child for his or herself. When I explained the concept of mercy in terms that he could understand, Cava's response was, "Why would I want to do that?"

Many of us might ask the same thing. I told him that, "Yeah, it isn't easy and it doesn't come natural to any of us, but Jesus has called us to."

"Why would He do that?"

"Because God, his Father, does the same for us. The Bible tells us that He is 'rich in mercy' and that He 'delights to show mercy' . . . Do you know what delight means?"

He shook his head, "No. What?"

"It makes God very happy to do it."

That's an amazing thought to have that the God who created the entire universe takes pleasure in showing us mercy. He even tells us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace" to "obtain" mercy and "find grace to help in a time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

And I told Cava that because God has shown mercy towards us, when we didn't deserve it, we are to show mercy towards others. Micah 6:8 commands us, "Do justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly with our God." Jesus even says that God prefers mercy to sacrifice. And in his Sermon on the Mount, He tells us, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." If we are to obtain mercy from our Heavenly Father, then we are to show mercy.

Thinking about that verse from Micah, I can't help but ask: Do we truly love mercy?

We do when it applies to us and being extended to us. Not so much when we are having to do the extending. Yet scripture tells us to. All of us should, daily, practice beautiful acts of mercy. By so doing, we are being a mirror of our heavenly Father. How much of an impact would that have on those around us if we did practice mercy? I like how Rich Mullins puts it:

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace. 

Lamentations tell us that God's mercies are new every morning.  It also tells us that His mercy is bigger than any of our mistakes. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, "God's mercy is so great that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space too narrow, than diminish the great mercy of God."

Now I like to watch documentaries about the universe and it never fails to amaze me how much greater in size the universe, or universes, are than we can even begin to understand and that behind all of that is God. The smartest minds in the world cannot even fathom the size and scope of our universe. Yet the God that made the universe is the same God who offers us mercy. And that mercy is greater in size than the universe. And it is made new every morning to us.

When I told Cava that God's mercy was bigger than the universe, he exclaimed, "Whoa! That's awesome!"

It is awesome. It is difficult. It is called for in those who receive divine mercy that they walk in and extend it to others. It is free and undeserved. But it is, indeed, awesome.

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