Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Great Faith (Part 2) - MORE Reflections on Matthew 15:21-29

"Have mercy on me, Lord!"  This was the desperate cry of the woman who approached Jesus.  She came to the right person (see yesterday's article).  And she came for the right reason - mercy.  This was a woman who was at the end of her rope.  Her daughter was demon-possessed and who knows what other problems that caused?  She could do NOTHING about her situation.  She had probably exhausted all the religious options her own people could offer.  No medicine could cure her daughter.  No amount of psychoanalysis would help.  She was desperate.  So, when Jesus came through her area, she ran to meet him.

And she cried out for mercy.  Notice she doesn't go up to Jesus and start complaining about her circumstances.  She doesn't whine about how God's not fair. No, this is the cry of someone who recognizes they deserve nothing from God.  That's a little different from the way most of us feel.  Most of us, although we would never say it like this, believe that God owes us something.  We think we deserve better than what we have.

The reality is that we all deserve much worse than we have.  We all deserve eternal damnation for our cosmic treason that we commit with every breath we take.  We probably don't think we are all that bad, but the reality is that we are!  The Bible describes us as utterly corrupt, evil down to the core, enemies of God, violent, boastful and proud.  Not one of us ever loves God the way we should and we definitely don't love others the way we should.

This is why we need mercy.  We are in no position to ask for anything from God and DEFINITELY in no position to demand anything.  But, God gives mercy.  The Father sent the Son into the world to fulfill our righteous requirement and die in our place.  He then offers forgiveness of our sin if we will just repent of (that means "turn from") our sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.  I plead with you, if you are not a believer in Jesus, stop reading right now and deal with that issue.  Nothing else matters.  God's mercy is available to you.  Don't pass it by.

Even as Christians, sometimes we think God owes us an easy life.  After all, we made the right decision.  We chose Christ instead of rejecting Him.  We go to church (at least once a month).  We don't drink, smoke, chew, or go out with girls who do.  We think we have performed well enough to earn God's blessing.  Isn't that how it works?

NO!!!  Christianity is never a performance-based religion.  Well, actually, it is.  But it's not our performance that matters.  What matters is not our works, but Christ's.  Of course, this in itself is mercy!  If our standing with God was in any way up to us, we would be cast out of His presence forever.  But, we have Another who stands in our place, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who has performed all the righteousness we will ever need and also took all our punishment on Himself.

Well, why is life so tough for the Christian then?  Shouldn't "mercy" mean that life gets easy after we come to Christ?  Of course, that question betrays our lack of an eternal perspective.  We forget that God is more interested in our holiness than our comfort.  And, so everything that God brings into our lives has a greater purpose than we can even contemplate.  He, in His mercy, is working Christ-likeness into us with everything He brings into our lives - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  It doesn't say, "everything feels good."  It says, "all things work together for good."

This is all mercy!  Christ being our righteousness, Christ taking the wrath of God for our sins, Christ constantly interceding before the Father on our behalf, the Holy Spirit guiding us and empowering us to live the Christian life, God ordaining all the things that come into our lives to make us more like Christ - all these things - are examples of God's mercy!  And we need it.  We need God's mercy every day.  And God withholds no good thing from His children.

So, the way to approach God is the exact way this woman did - crying for mercy.  And the beautiful thing is, God gives it!  Rather than giving us judgment, through Jesus Christ, God gives us mercy.  So, Christian, keep coming to Jesus pleading for His mercy.  He won't disappoint.

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