Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Need for Mercy

So the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to carry your mat." (John 5:10)

I had a recent conversation with someone who I had shared a great sermon with about the need to love our brothers and how this carried the promise that we would not fall. But rather than hearing the great message of truth, he instead picked up and focused on a stray comment about a woman pastor on that church's staff. He said that it was a violation of the scriptural teachings of Paul.

Now, honestly, women pastors make me uncomfortable too and for the same reason. But it got me to thinking: are any churches 100% accurate in their doctrine and practices? Do we not all have many areas in which me need to improve?

If there are ten areas that we really need to change, we can't just fix them all at once. You can maybe work on two or three at a time at most. I see this in parenting all of the time. We have to choose our battles prayerfully.

While this church has a woman pastor (the wife of the lead pastor), they are a remarkable example of love, charity, sacrifice, and unity. Most of their members were saved out of gangs and drugs in New York City. They also cover a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but they come together every Sunday to praise God as one. They have been very involved in outreach and service in the New York area putting their lives on hold to help victims of Hurricane Sandy even as their own homes had been destroyed by the surge. How many churches in America have this kind of testimony?

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that having perfect knowledge or miracles is worthless without love. Perhaps in their example of love, they are showing that they have simply made the most important thing their #1 priority. They preach the love of Jesus Christ and the need for repentance while being themselves an example of Christian love. Maybe we should be looking to learn from them instead of judging them for any weaknesses or failings they still have.

In the passage from John 5 above, the Pharisees were promoting perfect adherence to the law of God, but their hearts had grown cold. In their zeal to obey God, they even pushing beyond what God had intended in the Sabbath laws. As a result, when a great miracle occurred, all they could see was a man violating their understanding of the law. They were so focused on the man's "failings" that they could not rejoice and praise God for His miraculous deliverance.

We need to remember mercy and be ready to celebrate God's victories even in flawed people, for in the end, are we not all deeply flawed people in need of a savior?

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