The big idea of Mercy Season
Mercy Season is the time of year to discover what debt Jesus paid off for us (a death sentence), what new debt he laid onto us (a debt of gratitude), and how our actions as "mercy agents" fulfill the purpose he had when he made his sacrifice in the first place.
Here is the big idea, the Mercy Rhythm we get in SYNC with during Mercy Season:
God is carrying out a campaign to show his mercy to all of us, and the center of his campaign strategy is Jesus giving his life as a sacrifice for us. We deserved punishment, but we got a sacrifice instead. That is mercy.
The Bible is one long coherent story. The sad pattern repeated through most of this story is that humans disobey or ignore God, he punishes them, he shows mercy by giving them a second chance, and they fail again. They don't learn from judgment, or if they do learn anything, it doesn't last.
Jesus breaks that pattern. His mercy does not grant a second chance after punishment has been inflicted. It actually prevents the punishment from falling on us. He pays our fine. He serves our jail time. He even serves our death sentence.
Before Jesus, humanity had never seen mercy like that, not even from God. But in Jesus we get to see it. Mercy Season celebrates it. Jesus is our High Priest, and he presents his own blood as the sacrificial blood that offsets our punishment and grants us a pardon.
Of course, that isn't saying we didn't do anything wrong. We did, but we aren't going to pay for it unless we turn down the pardon.
Here is the other half of the big idea of Mercy Season:
God's campaign strategy for our era is to spread his mercy across the world through the people who have received it from Jesus. Those people forgive others and point them to Christ as the source of ultimate forgiveness.
When we accept Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf, it is exhilarating, and the deeper the hole we were in before, the more exhilarating it is to be lifted out of it. If you think you have done things so terrible that God could never forgive you, think again. They don't make sins that big. Sin is man-made. Jesus's sacrifice is God-made. The man-made thing cannot outweigh the God-made thing.
On the other hand, if you think you have been a pretty good person with just a few sins here and there, think again. The main thing God wants to know about you isn't the ratio of your good deeds to bad. It's whether you are a mercy agent on his team. Are you living in SYNC with his purpose to spread his mercy?
You might be thinking of God as a scorekeeper, like lots of people do. They think he has told humanity the rules of the game and now he is keeping a tally of our good acts and our bad ones. When our life is over, he will tell us what our total net score was and judge us accordingly.
Jesus laid down his life to kill that idea and broadcast a new truth to replace it. God isn't in the scorekeeping business. He is on a mercy-spreading campaign, taking his ancient campaign to a new level through Jesus.
Does that mean God has become soft-hearted and will go easy on evil? Does it mean the good news of Jesus is, "Hey, world! You can get away with anything now"? No, that is totally out of SYNC with Jesus's intentions when he made his sacrifice. He never intended his sacrifice as a permit to do evil.
Jesus's sacrifice does not cancel our punishment. It postpones it during a grace period, an open enrollment period for his campaign team. We have time to get in SYNC with his mercy, to welcome it, to ponder it, to let it go to work on us and in us. As it does, it turns us into mercy agents. It SYNCs us with the Mercy Rhythm of heaven.
Our assignment now is to fill the world with mercy, to show the world what it looks like and feels like, to make sure the whole world gets the memo about the pardon and the one condition God set for it--that we accept it authentically before the grace period runs out. One way to do this is to say to Jesus right now, "SYNC me!" (see explanation on the "Campaign prayer" page under the "God's campaign" tab)
Bottom line of the big idea of Mercy Season:
We see ourselves in Christ as mercy agents, showing his mercy and urging people to take advantage of the grace period. We live in SYNC with Christ's intentions when he presented his own blood as a sacrifice on the altar in heaven.
Our message as mercy agents is summed up in Romans 5.8: "God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death for us when we didn’t deserve it at all."
When you SYNC, when you See Yourself iN Christ as a mercy agent, you realize that you are part of the fulfillment of what Jesus intended when he sacrificed himself. His mercy is solving your sin problem, taking over your life, and turning you into a forgiving person. You get connected, healed, and blessed. This is exactly what is supposed to happen during the grace period.
No one should miss out on this but many people still are. They are living as best they can without knowing what the mercy of Jesus looks like, how it works, and how you get it.
If you know that mercy, your “cause” in life is to help everybody discover it. You are caught up in that cause, energized by it, and delighted every time you see even a small sign that the mercy is spreading.
If you don’t know that mercy but you do want a better world, please realize that is why God sent the mercy—to connect, heal, and bless the world. Nothing betters the world more or quicker than forgiveness, and there is no better source of transformative forgiveness than the self-sacrifice of Jesus.
Why not join his campaign instead of starting your own or joining some other campaign that can't forgive like Jesus can?
Of course, to join his team, you have to get over your view (if it is your view) that karma is an iron law built into the universe, that we deserve whatever we get in life because of our previous good or bad acts, and nothing can change that. Jesus breaks that "iron law" for us, and opens up a whole new world of mercy.
Our role as agents of God's mercy, calling people to welcome it
Here is the big picture, the flow of the story of the mercy of Jesus.
Everyone expected that the Messiah would come as an enforcer of God's law, showing no mercy to evil people (Isaiah 59.18-19)
Jesus announced (Luke 4.18-21) that he was fulfilling only the merciful part of the Messiah's mission (Isaiah 61.1-2a) not the violent part (Isaiah 61.2b)
That convinced the religious establishment that he could not be the real Messiah, which meant he deserved execution as a blasphemous fake.
He showed mercy by not using violence or putting a curse on those who took his life. In fact, he said they did not really "take" his life. He "laid it down" as a blood sacrifice, sealing our forgiveness. (John 10.18)
When we realize how he played his role in God's campaign, mercifully accepting the death penalty on our behalf, his wounds heal the scars of our souls. (Isaiah 53.5)
We turn into representatives or agents of this earthshaking mercy until he comes at the end of the grace period as the Enforcer, executing God's judgment on those who keep refusing to let his mercy work on them.
As mercy agents, we love to repeat the Mercy Declaration: "I see myself in Christ as a mercy agent. I see this day as a day to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and to live like it matters."
This declaration SYNCs us with the intentions Jesus had when he as our High Priest presented his own blood as our sacrifice, and it connects us to the power of Jesus's blood, setting us free when justice would have killed us.
No wonder the cross is such a central Christian symbol. It is a mercy marker. We can't get enough of it. No wonder Jesus's suffering and death are thankfully celebrated in so many songs. In hindsight we see his execution was not a disaster but a God-send, a stupendous act of mercy.
If his sacrificial death happened as reported in all four gospels in the New Testament, our guilt before God is canceled. All that is left is for us to tell the whole world that their guilt can be canceled too. As fellow recipients of mercy, we can all enter an era of peace with God and each other. We are the wave of the future when the Messiah will return to spread his peace everywhere.
How Mercy Season fits into the SYNC annual cycle
Mercy Season is the fifth of seven seasons in the SYNC annual cycle.
First season (Life) -- humanity disobeyed our Creator and put ourselves at his mercy
Second season (Roots) -- God promised to bring blessing and mercy into the world through the descendants of Abraham
Third season (Freedom) -- Jesus took mercy to a new level, sacrificing his own life
Fourth season (Power) -- Jesus took power in heaven but mercifully sent his Spirit as a means of empowerment not judgment
Fifth season (Mercy Season) -- Jesus presented his own blood to God in heaven as a sacrifice for humanity
In the previous season (Power Season) we saw ourselves as walking evidence of God's power for good, not enforcers of his judgment. Now in Mercy Season we see ourselves as mercy agents, telling the story of the final Day of Atonement and urging people to receive their pardon during the Grace Period.
There are more twists still coming in the story of the world. Spoiler alert: Life is not all relief and joy for mercy agents. In the next season (Honor Season), the mercy agents are not welcomed and honored. They get treated like the scum of the earth.