Catching onto the Mercy Rhythm
Note: this page assumes you already saw the "5G Flow" of the Mercy Rhythm
The rhythm of Mercy Season is the rhythm of a new era, the "Grace Period." When humans and their institutions killed Jesus the Messiah, the whole human race earned a death sentence. It would have been right for Jesus, as he went back from earth to heaven, to have caused earth to explode or to vanish without a trace. That is what we and our planet deserved.
But in his mercy, Jesus announced a "Grace Period," giving us a window of opportunity to escape the death sentence that still hangs over us all. Our only hope is a pardon, since we could never do enough good to get our sentence revoked. Community service never pays off the penalty for murder.
In God's mercy, a full pardon is available. That is the heart of the good news we have for the world. As "mercy agents," our job is to get people to aware of that pardon and the one condition for it--that they accept the pardon authentically.
We who have authentically accepted it catch onto the Mercy Rhythm. It is like a new sound deep in our souls, and we move in time with it. We are "in SYNC with Jesus." We become merciful toward others.
We can't thank God enough for the mercy he showed us. We feel we owe our lives to Jesus, and we honor him as our King by gladly participating in his mercy campaign. As campaign team members, we are his mercy agents, doing whatever he instructs us to do. And his first instruction is, "Show mercy."
Catching onto the Mercy Rhythm - getting the idea and the feel of it
Whole Bible - the Mercy Rhythm as the main thread of the whole biblical story
Relief, joy, and Mercy Season (August 7 - September 27, 2020)
Like all the other SYNC seasons, Mercy Season links us back to something huge God has done. To "SYNC" with that God-thing means to align ourselves with God's intentions when he did it.
In this case the God-thing is the final Day of Atonement, the day when Jesus presented his own sacrificial blood on our behalf in the Temple in heaven. What were his intentions when he did that?
Jesus was undoing the damage that the human race did to our relationship to God when we rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the person God sent to spearhead the campaign to bring justice and peace to the world. God intended that Jesus would be honored as King. We killed him as a fraud. We humans set ourselves in direct opposition to God's campaign, and not in some small detail. We went for the very center, the Messiah, the Spearhead, and tried to stop him! Talk about a damaged relationship! What could ever undo all that damage? How could our guilt and the shame ever be taken away?
You won't believe how it happened. It's like a twist in the plot of a novel. God is writing the story of the world, and he is the most creative novelist ever. So right here, in the center of the plot, is the most amazing twist of all. God mercifully does not use the Messiah's blood as evidence to convict and condemn humanity. The risen Messiah takes his own blood and uses it as atoning blood to forgive our sin and undo the damage to our relationship with God!
How brilliant a strategy is that! It brings us floods of relief and joy, so much that we have the Messiah's death on our minds all the time. That also means we can never forget or excuse what we did to the Messiah, and yet we don't wallow in any guilt or remorse about it. We renounce our terrible mistake and we marvel at the mercy of God. Who but God would take the blood from our worst evil and turn it into the means of healing us from that evil?
That is our message as God's mercy agents. We are not "selling" anything. We are giving mercy away. And we are giving it to people who don't deserve it and could never afford it even if they wanted it. They are in exactly the same boat we were in before we received mercy. And they can switch boats just like we did by authentically accepting the pardon that is available because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
So the theme of Mercy Season is, "Jesus has made the final sacrifice. We can be pardoned for what we did to him. Find relief and joy in that, and help others find them too."
Mercy Season is the fifth of seven seasons in the SYNC annual cycle. In the third season, the Messiah was rejected and killed. In the fourth season, the risen Messiah put his power and his Spirit into his followers so they could show that his messianic mission had not been thwarted. Mercy Season continues that story. The followers act not just as walking evidence of his power but 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: in the next season (Honor Season), the mercy agents are not welcomed and honored. They get treated like the scum of the earth.
FAQs about the Mercy Rhythm
1. Why do I need mercy for something I didn't do? I wasn't there when they killed Jesus, and I wouldn't have taken part in it if I had been there.
You may be a basically good person, but strange as it sounds, you are also infected with the same badness that put Jesus on the cross. We all are born with it. We all organize our lives around it. We all earn God's death sentence with it. And we all need mercy because of it.
What is that "badness" that is even in good people? The universal human tendency to run our own lives, build our own kingdoms, fight for our own groups, and decide who we will or won't forgive. What is so bad about that? It means we live as if Jesus is not the King, at least not on our turf. We might still listen to him part of the time, describe him as a good teacher, etc. But we deny him control of our lives, which is exactly what the Jewish and Roman officials did when they condemned him. They denied him control of what they controlled.
If we give Jesus the control of our lives, the very first demand he makes is that we forgive everyone. This means we have quit playing God, because God is the only one who has the right to decide who gets forgiven and who does not. We, even the good ones among us, have all usurped that right. When we lay it down, we and he both know that he has taken over.
Bottom line: if you are not treating Jesus as the King of your life, the decisive factor in your decisions, and the one who decides who you will forgive, you might as well look him straight in the face and say, "Not my king!" You need mercy regardless of how good you are most of the time.
2. Aren't you over-emphasizing the importance of sacrifice? Surely there are other ways to approach God sincerely.
God certainly cares about our sincerity, but think about it. If we have deeply insulted someone and we later want to approach him or her, we have to start by dealing with the insult. If we are approach the person as if nothing had happened, that is not a sincere approach. The person will see that we either do not realize how we insulted them or we are trying to pretend it was not serious. Either way, our approach will be rejected.
"Sincere" approaches to God without honoring Jesus as King are like that. The first thing God wants to know as we approach him is whether we are still insulting Jesus by refusing to honor him as King. How can we show no respect when the King walks into the room? We act like he isn't even there. We go on with our business and our conversations. Isn't that an insult? And if we say, "What insult? What did I do?" that's a double insult.
And if the King himself laid down his life as a sacrifice for us, wouldn't we insult him if we said, "Thanks very much, Jesus, but I didn't really need that sacrifice in order to approach God. My good deeds outweigh my bad ones, so I'm sure God will welcome me on my own. It's nice that you did that for the bad people who needed it."
3. How do I know if I am already an authorized "mercy agent"?
The simplest way to tell if you are already a mercy agent is to ask yourself what kind of terms you are on with God and how you got that way.
If you realize that you were complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus and that he reconciled you with God anyway, you are a mercy agent. You get it. You have authentically accepted his pardon, he has put his Spirit into you, and you are changing inside, becoming merciful to everyone.
On the other hand, if you think you are on OK terms with God because you are a decent person and you sometimes let some wrongs go without paying people back for them, you are not a mercy agent yet. You are thinking that your terms with God depend on what you do for him not what he did for you. You have not asked for or received a pardon.
Another way to tell if you are a mercy agent is to ask what you are doing to spread the news of the pardon. If you know how to unlock people from the traps of bitterness and revenge, it comes naturally to bring up the subject with them. If you don't see or can't explain the connection between Jesus's sacrifice and people's resentments and retaliations today, you aren't a mercy agent yet.
If you still aren't sure, here is a third way to tell, though it is a little more work. Read the "Who Are We?" story called "Unforgivable" (2 min.) and ask whether you see yourself as part of that story. The "Reflections" at the end of the story include five ways to tell whether you are in or not.
4. If I wanted to become a mercy agent, how would I get authorized?
If you are not a mercy agent but want to be authorized as one, the way to do that is basically to respond to the "Unforgivable" story (2 min. read) by saying, "I'm in," the same way you might say, "I'm in" when someone asked you whether you wanted to go along on a trip or take part in a business deal. Obviously you have to understand the trip or the business deal. Otherwise it doesn't mean anything to say, "I'm in," and you may change your mind pretty quickly.
In this case, your "I'm in," means, "Yes, Jesus our High Priest, please authorize me as one of your mercy agents. I admit that I have not been paying attention to you as the Messiah whom God sent to spearhead his campaign to save the world from itself. I have been deciding for myself who I will forgive and who I won't. From now on, I forgive everybody. I want them all to know what mercy feels like, whether they deserve it or not. I want them to know the relief and joy that I know because I realize what you did on the final Day of Atonement."
Welcome to Team Mercy! Please spread mercy in all the territory God gives you. The world needs it, and nobody else gives it like Jesus does.