Often times I find myself stuck on an aspect of Christian life. When that happens, I have to wrestle with it on the daily. That could be loving my neighbour, accepting what grace is and what it means for me or some days just accepting that God loves me is hard. However something that often alludes me is mercy.
It’s not out of a lack of understanding, I know what mercy is. If you know me at all you know that I love cinema and movies and I’ve seen enough of them to know mercy and what a cliché it is. The hero has the villain where he wants him, grovelling at his feet and instead of killing him and finishing it there the hero decides to leave him to live – showing mercy. When looked at this way I struggle to understand why I need mercy. I’m not the villain, right? I like to think I’m pleasant to be around, don’t upset too many people and always say thank you to the bus driver. I’m not a bad guy.
To accept this wonderful thing called mercy, we need to understand what we are being saved from. What we are being showing mercy for. Which requires us to examine our own hearts, which is painful. We are similar in some ways to the Egyptians, they engaged in slavery and they didn’t understand what they were doing was actually wrong! Like the Egyptians, we often do things that have no benefit for us in our spiritual walk (not in the same vein as slavery but you get the point) or might even be detrimental to other people. I realise that personally, a lot of my time week to week isn’t focused on God or really paying that much attention to Him. I often treat Him as something in the background and would much rather watch movies, play games, sleep or do anything else besides reading, praying and engaging with God.
Often how we view relationships in the world is if someone isn’t engaging with you or making an effort then you drop them right? Or you at least question their relationship with you, or you end up showing some kind of resentment to them even if you don’t know or realise it. These are the kinds of things we need to be shown mercy for. The buried resentment, the lies that you believe to be true, the hurt you may have unwittingly caused others. These are the things we often don’t catch ourselves doing and show the greatest problem with ourselves. Our hearts. We need God to show us mercy from ourselves and our own hearts.
The Passover story is a great showing of mercy, God’s mercy freed the Israelite slaves from the oppressive Egyptians. Similarly, we need God’s mercy to save us from our oppressive hearts. God could have struck down everybody, but He gave the Israelites fair warning and allowed them to show that they trusted Him. Then he gave them their mercy. The Lambs blood saved both the Israelites and also us. Sometimes it can feel like we are still left to our own devices, or that our desires are so overwhelming that we aren’t sure we are even saved. But like the Israelites we just need to trust in our God to save us and show us mercy.