Being Missional or a Missional a church is being aware that things have changed, that we can’t just sit back and expect people to come; rather that again we have to go into the community. We need again to take seriously Jesus Commission that we heard at the end of our Easter Sunday bible reading to go into all nations, all people groups and make disciples, showing them and teaching them the good news of Jesus Christ. In Christendom that was overseas mission, in post christendom it’s right here and now. As we work at what that means it’s good for us to focus again on Jesus Sermon on the Mount, which has been called the manifesto of the Kingdom of God, or the job description for followers of Jesus, because as Dietrich Bonheoffer has said
“The restoration of the church will surely come from a new kind of community, which will have nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising adherence to the Sermon on the Mount in imitation of Christ. I believe the time has come to rally people together for this.”
That’s probably quite a heavy introduction but it’s why this year we are taking the time to explore the Sermon on the Mount, starting with looking at the Beatitudes: ‘The Jesus Guide to Happiness’ or what NT Wright more aptly calls the ‘wonderful news’ of God’s activity in the world through Jesus of Nazareth. It’s good after having celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection to go back and look at that list with Jesus commission ringing in our ears and the promise that He is with us to the end of the age, even in turbulent times like we are going through.
This morning we are looking at the wonderful news for those who are merciful, they shall receive mercy’. Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.
Can I say sadly down through the ages the church hasn’t been known first and foremost for our mercy and love…We should be, but we are broken people spiritual poor on a journey back to God and back to wholeness. We need to be shown the on going mercy of God in our lives.
What does it mean to be merciful, to have mercy? This picture comes from Anne brink and her big city gallery and looking at the Sermon on the Mount from her urban setting.
In the sacred journey Chris Surber picks up the idea of mercy being the character of the God who dwells with and within us he says
“We are not called to acts of mercy. We are called to be merciful. The merciful acts of our hands flow from the abundance of the mercy which dwells or does not dwell with in us.”
In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount Martin Luther points to the fact that for Jesus contemporaries it may have been easy for them to agree with Jesus statement blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, as that was what the Pharisees were all about but it was a false righteousness as they simply poured scorn and were angry at those who did not live up to their standards. Luther points out that true holiness is compassionate and loving. It is easy for us to fall into the same trap, in the first of the seven letters to the seven church in the book of revelation, the church at Ephesus is commended for keeping the truth, but reminded that they have lost their love, their first love for God and their willingness to show love and compassion.
J Ellsworth Kalas is a bit more practical he says being merciful is the costly process of showering kindness on other people.
He says it’s costly in three ways.
It’s emotionally costly, because to have mercy is not to sit back disinterestedly from the plight of other people but to be willing to enter in to their world and plight and empathise with them. if it is to forgive there is a very real emotional price tag we have to be willing to deal with all the anger and pain that goes along with slights and wrongs done to us individually and as groups.
It has a high practical price tag as we are often called to sacrificially give to care to those in need. In our time poor culture, where leisure time is a sign of real wealth, the investment is often in costly time given as well .
Let me just finish by quoting 1 John 4:10-12
“10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy