Summary: The Harmony between Truth and Mercy
The Harmony between Truth and Mercy
I have a top-ten list I would like to share with you. It is the top ten ways to be irritating to other people.
Number 1. When you go through a drive-thru, make a point of specifying that your order is "to go."
Number 2. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green and insist that you "like it that way."
Number 3. Reply to everything someone says with "that’s what YOU think."
Number 4. Practice making fax and modem noises.
Number 5. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble the answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."
Number 6. Go to a poetry recital and ask why some of the poems don’t rhyme.
Number 7. As much as possible skip rather than walk.
Number 8. Ask people what gender they are.
Number 9. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
Number 10. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
You know, this is a reasonably good segue into what I would like to talk about this morning. John wanted me to talk about the Harmony between Truth and Mercy, and I have to warn you that this is an offensive subject to many. And this being the Christmas season, we can look and see that Jesus has always been the source of offense—even from His birth.
And you might ask, “what offense?” Because when we look at the account of Jesus’ birth, we see
· The wise men came from far away and as the Gospel of Matthew records, “they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
· We see the simple shepherds of the fields overjoyed—glorifying and praising God.
· We see the prophets Simeon and Anna who acknowledge Jesus for who He is and are Glad.
But while we see much joy at His arrival, we also see rejection and anger in many. And who was angry? King Herod and the Chief Priests and the Teacher of the Law.
As the embodiment truth, Jesus had come to take his rightful place as king; as the embodiment of mercy, He had come to be the true Chief Priest and the true Teacher of the Law.
LET’S PRAY LET’S PRAY LET’S PRAY LET’S PRAY
We’ll be using Psalms 85:10-13 as our text. Listen to the Psalmist as he refers prophetically to Jesus:
Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.
So Jesus was predestined to come and be the reconciliation of mercy and truth.
I guess that begs the question, “Why do truth and mercy upset folks and whom do they upset?” As we said before, the Pharisees and the legalists—represented by the Priests and Teachers are offended by mercy and the unbelieving world—represented by the worldly King Herod—is offended by truth.
Let’s look at MERCY. What is mercy? The dictionary definition of mercy is undeserved kindness or unmerited favor. You ask, “Who could be offended by that?” This is what Paul, in Galatians 5, refers to this as the “offense of the cross.”
The offense can be found in the key words “undeserved” and “unmerited.” The legalist cannot bear the thought that he cannot reach God on his own through religion and keeping the law.
At the heart of religion is pride. Pride says, I don’t need a Savior, I don’t want a Savior, I can attain righteousness on my own. And 1st Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…”
C.S. Lewis wrote extensively about God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. Listen to what he says about his own conversion:
You must picture me alone in that room in Maudlin, night after night feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady relentless approach of Him, whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I had greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the trinity term of 1929, I gave in and admitted that Jesus was God and knelt and prayed—perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not see then what I see now, the most shining and obvious thing—the divine humility that will accept a convert even on such terms. The prodigal son at least walked home on his own feet, but who can completely ignore the love that will open the high gates of heaven to a prodigal who’s brought in kicking, struggling, and resentful, who’s darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape. Christ is the personification of the depths of Devine mercy—the hardness of God is softer than kindness of men and His compulsion is our liberation.