The game-changer that makes
and how it works
The fifth of the seven game-changers celebrated in the SYNC annual cycle is a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person in a perfect place. It was Jesus the Messiah putting his own sacrificial blood on the altar in heaven (see Hebrews 9.11-12).
In one stroke the presentation of Jesus's blood achieved all three aims of God's campaign--connect, heal, bless.
It opens a new way for us to connect with God
It heals us of our guilt, shame, and failure
It blesses us by turning us into agents of God's mercy.
That one merciful act capped off a lifetime of merciful living and teaching, even at the point of his death at the hands of merciless enemies. That act is final. It cannot be undone, revoked, or canceled. So let's celebrate it!
1G - Game-changer How Jesus changed everything
with his blood
It is easy to talk of God’s mercy but it is shocking and humbling to realise what God’s mercy led him to do for us.
Suppose you, as a friend, send your son to my house with gifts, but I think he is a terrorist impersonating your son, bringing bombs wrapped as gifts. If I kill him and throw his body and the gifts in the street, what could ever restore our friendship?
I could never do enough to restore it. It would only be restored if, for some unknown reason, you mercifully decided to restore it instead of making me pay for what I did.
God sent his son Jesus to earth, brimming with kindness and goodness, to take his relationship with humanity to the next level. Jesus announced that the reign of God on earth was arriving, and what happened?
Some joined him but the power holders rejected his announcement and killed him for asserting during his trial that he was the Messiah. His blood is on our hands as members of the human race. How could humanity ever make up for such a blind, vicious, arrogant mistake?
We couldn’t. But God knew we were going to do that. He told Jesus to accept rejection and execution and Jesus kept telling his followers that this would happen.
After it happened, God in his incredible mercy declared that he would treat the execution not as treason against him (which it was) but as a sacrifice. Jesus wiped his blood off our hands and presented it as a sacrifice, just as God in his mercy had planned for us.
Do we see this mercy? God took the stupidest, most horrifying act in human history, the one thing that deserved worse punishment than anything else, and transformed it into the means of mercy for us. He transformed what seems unforgivably horrible into what is unforgettably merciful.
By accepting execution Jesus executed God’s ancient plan of mercy. He offered himself on the cross as the willing victim and presented his blood to God so we who rejected him could be reconciled to God, not executed as we deserved. That shocking act of Jesus as our mediator with God is the basis for the Mercy Season.
The merciless execution becomes a means of mercy and healing. The Messiah is the perfect sacrifice, the perfect mediator and the perfect hero.
2G - Gift A grace period is available now because the game changed
Each of SYNC's seven game-changers comes with a new gift for us. The gift we get from Jesus as our High Priest is mercy, or rather, a grace period to receive mercy. If we take advantage of the grace period, we can have our slate wiped clean, our broken relationship with God restored.
The idea of a grace period may sound odd to many people who think of God in terms of timeless truths. Good has been and always will be good. Evil has been and always will be evil. God's character is reliable, has not changed and never will.
But the timeless view overlooks the huge fact that the world has a story, and it moves through stages. To live wisely in this story, we do have to know the timeless truths but we also have to know which stage of the story we are in and how we got here.
We are in the grace period, "Mercy Time." And this era overlaps with the two before it--"Freedom Time" which Jesus proclaimed and "Power Time" that began when the Holy Spirit was poured into and among his followers. The gift of mercy is within reach.
3G - Get it The gift helps us if we "get it," if we see why God gave that gift
If we get it, if we understand God's game-changing gift of mercy, that is the "Aha moment" when something inside us changes.
We "get it" if we see that by giving up his life and his power, Jesus was actually taking over the world! He was doing something so powerfully persuasive that people would honor him as their authentic King instead of rejecting him as an impostor.
Here is his takeover strategy. He removed the debt of our sin, our wanting to live life in our own way without regard for him. That removal is so liberating for us that it causes a debt of gratitude.
We can't pay this new debt off either, but we love to keep trying! We gratefully want to live life his way, in SYNC with his strategy instead of ours.
Here is the tricky part. Jesus's sacrifice does not automatically cancel our sin debt, the penalty we have accumulated over a lifetime. His sacrifice gives us a window of opportunity for getting our debt canceled, a grace period. That grace period expires either when we die or when the Messiah returns to judge the world.
So what is the opportunity and how do we take hold of it?
The opportunity is to accept the gift of Jesus's mercy, realising what it means.
1. It means we didn’t earn it. Gifts are not earned.
2. It means we know how the Messiah will judge us at the end. He will welcome those who accepted the gift of mercy that he made available by his life-blood. He will hold accountable those who rejected it or ignored it as unimportant.
3. It means we agree to become mercy agents, forgiven people who are forgiving people. If we try to receive forgiveness ourselves but are not willing to forgive others, we are trying to work the system. God throws out people who do that.
Caution: We don't get the idea of mercy if we think that accepting Christ's sacrifice is like signing a contract. A contract is cut and dried, and it has no implications about gratitude or respect.
Christ's mercy is never presented to us as a contract. It's a favor. A favor comes with expectations about appropriate gratitude and respect, but these are not all spelled out like the terms of a contract. That would spoil the favor.
Christ's mercy is not a contract that gives us guarantees and leverage. It is the basis for a connection with Christ and his whole global team of mercy agents.
Caution: We don't get the idea of mercy if we think that God calculates our sin debt by weighing our good deeds against our bad, and that we only need enough mercy to tip the balance in our favor. Our link with God is an all or nothing thing, like a chain or a bucket.
If a chain has 49 good links and one broken link, do the 49 outweigh the one? If a bucket has only one hole in the bottom, do all the "non-holes" (the solid parts) outweigh the one hole? We all have at least one hole, so even the best of us are totally lost without God's mercy.
Caution: We don't get the idea if we think God only wants to show us that he is kind and loving. In that case, we are likely to get presumptuous and assume he will forgive us the next time too.
Jesus was not raised from the grave so that his enemies could kill him a second time! Forgiveness of a mistake is not permission to repeat it.
4G - Go with it Once we "get it," we enjoy the gift
and we work so others can enjoy it
When we get it, we realize that to "have mercy" means both to possess mercy and to show mercy. We "have it" ourselves and we also "have mercy" on others.
We live out what God has done inside us. We become his mercy agents on earth. We are in SYNC with the mercy of Jesus, going along with his plan to flood the world with his mercy.
It is his gentle method of taking control of the world. It may seem like a weak strategy, but nothing else has the transforming power of God's mercy shown in Christ's self-sacrifice.
That is what we represent. We are agents of his mercy, not officials of his government. We do not take control. We only show his mercy, and his mercy brings willing people under his control.
This is a great way to live! As messengers of the merciful sacrifice of Jesus, we are the salve for all the wounds and scars of the world.
People who were bitter and vengeful can be released. People who were traumatized or abused can benefit from one who has been through worse things than they have. And they can become mercy agents so that Jesus's healing and his control spread further.
On the other hand, if we welcome Jesus's sacrifice for us but do not forgive others, we are not "going with" his mercy and his plan. We are out of SYNC with his purpose.
We are trying to get his forgiveness to work for us without letting it flow through us to others. We are trying to work the system, and the King does not tolerate that. We either forgive others or we forfeit his forgiveness ourselves. (Matthew 6.14)
5G - Genuineness As we "go with it," we become mercy agents
We find our authentic identity in Christ because of his mercy. We are 100% genuine people, not having to fake anything or hide anything any more. The blood of Christ has exposed it all and taken care of it all! In SYNC with Christ and his purpose, we become part of God's strategy to heal the world by giving it the mercy it does not deserve.
The world is not kind to us as mercy agents any more than it was kind to Jesus himself. There is a lot of pain and suffering involved. We have to bite our tongues, stop our urge to retaliate, and turn to God with our tears.
But nothing is more genuine evidence of God's secret power at work than the merciful way we handle the wrongs people do to us when we represent Jesus to them. There is no human explanation for our good will toward our enemies. Our joy bubbles up no matter what, and we keep trusting the King who will make everything right in the end.
Only the mercy of God in Christ can account for this. We received it as a gift, and we are giving what we received from Christ, not giving back the evil that people gave us.
We are in SYNC with Christ's intentions on the day he presented his sacrificial blood to God in heaven. The Father dipped his stamp in that blood and stamped our sin bill, "PAID IN FULL".
Graphic of the "5G Cascade of Grace" that guarantees the success of God's campaign. See "Success" under "God's campaign" tab or click here.