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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Tainted Mercy

Originally scheduled for May 26

If there is one characteristic that defines the average Christian, it is his love of bargaining with God.

·         We want a contract with God; his covenant seems to be too restrictive, as he dictates all
the terms. So we just tell him we are negotiating with him.

·         We want to tell him what the end result of the process is going to be — we know how this is supposed to turn out, we know who lives and who dies and we know what we want — so it must be the right answer.

·         In short, we want to be in charge of the discussion and relationship. The net result is that we expect God to think that we are indeed wonderful people. Sometimes we are puzzled with how God fails to be impressed with both our charity and our genius.

This is really not as much a surprise as it seems. We are dealing with God as if he were another person just like us. He is not. He is the creator of the universe, and by his will the laws of the universe were created and are kept. That includes the laws of physics as well as the laws of ethics. You might as well negotiate with God concerning right and wrong as negotiate with him about the strength of gravity.

One particular area that serves as a good example is the concept of mercy in the form of forgiveness. Our vision is that when we forgive others that we have put God in our debt — so much so that he is obliged to forgive us too. The foolishness of this can be seen by comparing the mercy we get for the mercy we give. Our mercy is tainted mercy; we are always putting conditions on it and frankly being sinners we are not capable of pure mercy. God, in return for this, promises us his holy mercy. He is the one who is offended by every sin; he is the one who is perfect and sinless. He does this by covenant, offered to all of his children — not by a contract negotiated with each one.

We are often proud of our forgiveness. We think how much it costs us to forgive someone who has grievously offended us. But whatever the cost to us, is a cost to a sinner. The mercy that God showed us at the cross is pure and holy — and was bought at a much greater price.

We find the reminders of this in communion. In the bread we see the body of Christ, nailed to a cross and hung there for an agonizing death. In the cup we see his blood, splattered all over the ground. It looks like a crime scene — and that is what it is. An innocent man should not be executed, but Christ endured it so that you might have forgiveness at his expense. So as you partake this morning, remember that his grace to you, his forgiveness, is given freely. It far exceeds anything you can do. It is not a bargain we make with God — it is the miracle of Grace.

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