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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stewing on mercy


I haven't posted for a while because I've been stewing. Nothing culinary though. I've recently been invited to take part in a conference next April and the working title of the seminar I'm involved with is 'How to live a mercy filled life in a difficult world.'

This has caused me some discomfort and is my reason for the slow progress I've made blogging recently (it's also one of the busiest weeks of my year). I couldn't honestly describe the process as thinking, it doesn't seem as clear or as defined as that, instead something much more elemental has been happening, and the best word I can think of to describe it is stewing. It's been simmering in my spirit, bubbling away under the surface, doing something in my soul but it is neither finished nor complete, other things need to be added in order to produce something nourishing or satisfying.

Firstly, I take a mercy filled life to be one of compassion and when necessary forgiveness. So I'm asking myself, do I live that kind of life? As best I can in the place I live with the people I know, do I extend compassion, hospitality, love, forgiveness, acceptance, mercy?

The problem I think I'm having is that on one level I can answer yes, but it seems programmatic when what I want I something relational, personal, flowing from a heart that has been changed by the ever-flowing mercy of God. I don't want a scheme (although I accept that organisation may need to come) I want a heart that doesn't just put difficult people in a separate home but puts people in my own home.

What distance was there between Jesus and the lepers or Jesus and the prostitutes or Jesus and the tax collectors, zealots or poor? None that I can see. He touched them, broke the barriers down.

What's my biggest challenge? I'm comfortable and by definition that makes the thought of moving from that place uncomfortable. But that makes me think that in that case I'm valuing my lifestyle or whatever above people, above following Jesus when the going gets a bit tough or risks the safety of my middle class environment.

There are people I know right now, who pose a challenge to me, who I've avoided because they're difficult, because they're needy, because they're sinful, because they're dirty and smelly and a host of other reasons but something needs to be done and I'm not sure God wants to send someone else to make my life easier, he wants to send me to make my heart better.

I think the next few months are going to be very challenging.

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