Living as mercy agents
As people who have received Christ's mercy, we live a life of discovery. We can hardly believe that people like us get to be on his team to carry his mercy to the world, but then we realize that we actually do have the one and only qualification needed for it--we have accepted his mercy. That mercy removes all the things that would have disqualified us!
Then we start discovering how to play on the team, how to live as agents who deliver mercy and forgiveness to others. To move in SYNC with God's Mercy Rhythm means that we start dancing to it. We love it. We get into it. And it gets into us. God forgave us, we forgive others. God healed us, we bring healing to others.
Moving to the rhythm of God's mercy is more like a dance than a march. Marches are rigid, rehearsed, and done precisely the same way every time. Dances, at least party dances, are spontaneous. Even the dancers are constantly discovering what moves they will make as the beat goes on.
And even in a rehearsed dance where everyone is making the same moves to the same rhythm, the moves look different because the people are built differently. The dance unifies the dancers and also capitalizes on their differences instead of standardizing everything like a marching band does.
As we live merciful lives, we are united in the mercy campaign of Jesus. We connect, heal, and bless people, but we can never predict what act of mercy will be our next assignment. We discover it as we go along, listening to the Spirit.
How do we move with the Mercy Rhythm?
We say "Yes!" Access to the mercy of Jesus does not come by any secret formula except saying "Yes" to the sacrifice of Jesus. We see that Jesus is the one who brings heaven's mercy within our reach, and we say,
"Yes! Over here please. I needed that, and I will give the rest of my life to honor the one who did that for me."
"Yes! I want to be part of Jesus's mercy distribution network. I want to help people find the healing they need in his grace."
"SYNC me!" is one way of saying "Yes" to God's mercy.
We keep looking at the story of the final Day of Atonement. The sacrifice of Jesus has wiped out our guilt and shame before God! And he has given us the good news for the benefit of everybody--heaven's mercy is available on earth now because the all-powerful Messiah has sacrificed his life to bring it. This good news will unite the world in gratitude and service to the one who died for us all.
We become mercy agents for Jesus. Agents do not appoint themselves. They get authorized and they stay connected with whomever or whatever they represent. We keep opening ourselves up to the mercy of Jesus. It isn't just a one-time thing. It's a life process, new every morning. We keep thanking God for past mercies and discovering new depths of his mercy. This keeps us fresh as agents, always ready to forgive, always having a new story to tell about how God's mercy is blessing us.
We don't expect everybody to like Jesus's terms for access to mercy. Many people refuse to accept charity because it seems insulting to them. Mercy is the same. To accept it, you have to admit you need it, and that goes against a very strong and very common human tendency to believe, "I'm not that bad."
Becoming merciful people
When we experience the mercy of Jesus through his sacrifice, we let it sweep into us. It changes our feelings and our outlook. It defines us and our purpose in life. We call this "SYNCing" with Jesus and his strategy, seeing ourselves in Christ.
Living with the mercy of the Spirit of Christ inside us is not an instant transformation. We keep discovering more about it as we go along. We can open the door to new experiences and discoveries with prayers along these lines (reword as needed to make them your own)
Jesus, our sacrifice and our high priest, please let your mercy go to work on us. Let it wipe out the parts of us that want to whine about how unfair other people are.
Wipe out our desire to pay them back. Instead let us show them mercy, and please let us have an opportunity to tell them about the grace period when they can get a pardon like we did.
Make us great mercy agents, and let the suffering of the world be reduced because of the healing and the hope that come through your sacrifice.
If we are in Christ, the epitome of mercy, we also become mercy agents who attract others to open up to his mercy. They see what it is doing to us, and they want in.
We can assure them that we did not receive mercy because we deserved it any more than they do. We didn't deserve it at all. All we did was to quit thinking we didn't need it. Then we embraced it and let it start to change the things that were wrong with us. No bragging rights for any of that!
Others can do exactly what we did. Ever since the game-changer on that final "Day of Atonement," the mercy of Jesus is available to all those who say "Yes" to Jesus, our High Priest and our King. It doesn't matter how bad we used to be; in fact, the worse we were, the more thankful we will be for mercy and the more obvious it will be that we didn't change ourselves. Mercy changed us. Thank you Jesus!
God, please give [name of person or group] your mercy.
Draw them to authentically receive your mercy and to get the pardon you want everyone to have.
Turn them into mercy agents who will draw more and more people to accept your pardon.
Let the suffering of the world be reduced because [name] is/are not bitter, vengeful, or guilty any more.
As mercy agents, we keep coming back to four key ideas:
God is working his campaign strategy to bring heaven's mercy to earth
Jesus is the spearhead of that strategy, the source of all mercy, the sacrifice who gave his life to bring mercy within reach of earth
Jesus presented his blood in the Temple in heaven as the final atonement, making peace between God and those who authentically accept his pardon
If we do not show mercy, we did not authentically receive our own pardon
As these ideas soak into us, heaven's mercy goes to work on earth in us and around us. Our lives change. We have new stories to tell about how the mercy of Jesus works.
Mercy Season (August 7 - September 25, 2023) is the time to re-SYNC with the Mercy Rhythm. Remember who we are. Remember how we got here. And act like it--grateful to God, living mercifully, and urging people to take advantage of the Grace Period by authentically accepting the pardon that Jesus made available to them.
Jesus has the key role of bringing heaven's mercy to earth because he himself was an impossible combination of heaven and earth, of God and humanity. It took such a one-of-a-kind being to connect the unseen "heaven" with the world we see. He does not just make the connection. He IS the connection.
And that is why getting the benefit of the mercy of Jesus cannot be an impersonal thing. The mercy of his sacrifice is so entangled with Jesus himself that there is no way to separate the two. His sacrifice brings mercy to us; he himself orders us to live as his mercy agents. We have both or neither. Let's go for both.
Relief, joy, and Mercy Season
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 him 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."