32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36
I was brought up in what was called, “The Holiness Movement.” Our favorite text of the Bible was Leviticus 11:44, where the Lord God says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” We knew that the basic meaning of the word, “holy,” was to be “different than,” or, “distinct from,” and “set apart.” Thus, we were devoted and quite serious about being different, by not doing what other people did, or going to places they went. For us, this was holy living. Being holier than others meant carefully holding to the list of rules. And with this went the almost daily calculation of how we were doing compared to how others were doing in keeping the rules.
You can imagine my surprise then, when I began to discover that the Lord Jesus doesn’t play by the rules! I began to see that Jesus thinks of holy living, or being set apart, in a quite different way. Jesus thinks of holy living as being different in precisely the way that he sees the heavenly Father as being different.
In today’s text, Jesus says that the heavenly Father is different from others in that he doesn’t love the way others do. He doesn’t love just those who love him. Even sinners do that. No, the Most High even loves his enemies! And he doesn’t just love those who give back to him in return. He loves and does good to people, expecting nothing in return.
What a truly different way of understanding God that the Son of God reveals. And what a different and distinct way of life Jesus himself demonstrates. Jesus never counts himself a part of any holiness movement per se, or never so much as quotes the verse about being holy because God is holy. Rather, with a tender turn of phrase, Jesus implores, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” That’s the way to be different from others! Be different in the way that the heavenly Father is different: generous in forgiveness, extravagant in grace, and merciful in keeping accounts.
When religious leaders censure Jesus for hanging out with sinners, Jesus replies: Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13).
I’m a slow learner, but I think I’m beginning to get it. It’s all about mercy, isn’t it! How about you and me, let’s start a “The Mercy Movement.”
Mercy and peace,
- ROMANS 8: THE PINNACLE OF GRACE
11:00a.m. – Noon
Bible scholars have described the eighth chapter of Romans as “the mountain peak of Scripture,” and the “chapter of chapters for the Christian.” Another commentator has said, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter eight would be the sparkling point of the jewel!” You’re invited to join us in an exploration of Romans eight and the heights of God’s grace!
- EXPLORING ECCLESIASTES: A BOOK FOR OUR TIME
7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M
The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of the Bible’s most enigmatic, yet most relevant and beautiful books. Ecclesiastes asks the hard questions about the meaning of life, grief and loss, pleasure and profit, money and accumulation, and applies godly wisdom to everyday realities. You’re invited to join us in this study of what is most important in life and how we can live more rich and fulfilling lives.