Loving Mercy

1211240529094590-micah6-8•    There has been lots of drama in this little body of Jesus followers over the last few months
•    It seems that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong
•    In the middle of all of this

o    It is easy to get your eyes off the goal of loving people
o    It is easy to get caught up in the drama and take offensive at what folks have or have not done

•    To help us refocus, I want to take some time to talk about why we are a church

o    Why do we gather here each week
o    Why do we meet in our homes
o    Why do we do what we do
o    And what does it mean to walk in mercy and forgiveness

(Audio recording of this sermon can be found on the PRV website)

Why we meet as a church?

•    To Corporately Worship God

o    yes, you can worship by yourself, but there is something powerful about coming together as a group to worship God.
o     It is interesting to note that pretty every region across every culture has a sense of the corporateness of worship…
o    kinda makes you think that perhaps there’s something to it.

“When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.”  ~C. S. Lewis; God in the Dock

•     To Remember The End Goal of Life

o    It is easy here in the USA to forget that what we see and do each day isn’t the end goal.
o    Coming together each week reminds us that we are to focused on Jesus and His mission.
o    We also need to know that we are not alone – no matter what happens, there are people around us who has walked the path before us or, perhaps, are walking it with us.

“If God exists…and if He had an investment in His incredibly complex piece of art called the human being…and if He wanted to use those human beings to bring about His overarching purposes for a world that’s gone haywire…and if He created an organization—a movement—that would be made up of these creatures to do that, wouldn’t it be a pretty amazing thing? That’s a Big Idea. That’s the Church.” –Dave Workman, Vineyard Cincinnati

•    To Learn How To Be God’s People –

o    The weekly gatherings are the practice to the real game (i.e. the rest of the week).
o    It is where we come to learn how to go back out into our daily lives and live as people of God.
o    Church is a place full of people who are different – just like the Kingdom of God
o    There are those who we like and those whom we dislike
o    In coming together we learn how to forgive, love and bless our family members so that we can love, forgive and bless our enemies.

Come as you are

•    Over the years we have talked about being a ‘come as you are’ people

o    This phrase was also given to the new pastoral candidates by you guys when describing yourself

•    This phrase means two things

o    The first is that folks can come to church wearing whatever they want

*    Jeans, shorts, suits, ties or t-shirts
*    Folks can come fresh from doing chores

o    The second, and most important, is that we don’t expect people to have their act together before they come to church

•    It seems strange to say that as the Scriptures tell us that we all are sinners

o    That we all screw up
o    That we all have issues in our lives
o    That we all have problems that sometimes splash over onto other people

•    Sadly the history of the global church has been full of God’s people trying to set boundaries

o    They say that only this type of folks can come to church
o    That if you do that or this you can’t come

•    They try to keep sin out of the church while forgetting that sin came in the door with them
•    Jesus addressed this pretty clearly in his life and ministry

o    Sinners of all sorts came to Jesus willingly
o    The folks who would normally stay away from the religious leaders of the day came to Jesus in crowds
o    There was something about Jesus that drew messed up people like ourselves to Him

•    Matthew 11:19 says that the church of the day called Jesus a friend of sinners

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

•    This was the reputation of Jesus

o    And I believe it should be our reputation as well
o    We should be found standing on the side of the broken and the hurting
o    The messed up and wounded
o    For that is the side that I am living… that we are living on

•    To do otherwise is to lie about who we really are….
•    I know this flies in the face of religion and what a lot of other preacher have taught over the years

o    It is common to say that we are to avoid the “appearance of evil”
o    I know that phrase is meant to help people stay out of trouble
o    That to some it is better to stay away from certain places as it could pull them back into a life that they are trying to break out of
o    For example, a drunk trying to break out of alcoholism has better stay away from a bar

•    Here’s the thing:

o    We are the people of Jesus
o    We are to follow what Jesus did
o    And Jesus went to the broken and the lost and the messed up
o    He hung out in the wrong places and with the wrong people
o    And people were changed when they gathered around Him
o    Why?
o    Because he brought life with Him

•    For us as a local church body, we are to know that when folks – when we – gather together something happens

o    Something powerful
o    Something amazing

•    We meet Jesus

o    We come into His presence
o    And when we do, we are changed

•    We become like the women at the well in John 8

o    The women who had many husbands and was living with someone who she was not married too
o    The women whom Jesus talked too and cared about
o    The women who ran into her town telling people about Jesus
o    The women who wasn’t afraid to unveil her stuff because in doing so she helped others find Jesus

•    That is what we should mean when we say “come as you are”

o    That is what we should mean when we say that “mercy triumphs over judgment”

The Problem

•    Only there is a problem in all of this
•    The problem is outlined by St. Paul in Romans 7:15,21-25

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

•    Each of us are struggling to follow God

o    It is not easy
o    It is counter to everything around us and in us

•    Yes, we are a new creation with Jesus

o    Yes, Jesus brought freedom from sin, evil and death
o    Yes, we are being made new

•    At the same time we are still struggling

o    It is a paradox
o    A tension

•    We live between two ages

o    We are both saints and sinners at the same time
o    We are have both liberty and  struggling

•    This is where mercy comes in

Mercy

•    Mercy….mercy….
•    James 2:12-13 has been an important verse to our community

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

•    Mercy is defined as

o    “Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

•    We are walk in mercy as God walks in mercy

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15

•    Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

•    Three things that we are to do

o    Act justly
o    Love mercy
o    Walk humbly

•    To act justly means that we are seek the high road

o    We are to stand on the side of innocence
o    We are to seek to make wrong things right

•    To love mercy is to give grace and forgiveness when undeserved

o    Just like Jesus gave us grace and forgiveness

•    To walk humbly is to place our pride at the cross for it is pride that keeps us from asking for forgiveness or offering mercy

o    It is our pride that makes us take offensive when none was indented
o    It is out pride that makes us bow up and fight

•    God has told us to walk in humility so that we can find mercy
•    Proverbs 28:13 has been on my heart for much of this last week

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

•    We are to confess and renounce our sins so that we can find mercy
•    St. James connects confession of our sins to healing…

“If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:15b-16a

•    To be healed

o    To be made whole is to walk in humility
o    To be set free is to know that we all mess up and that we are to ask for forgiveness

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