Summary: Since, we have a view of God’s rich mercy we are able to serve him with our lives.
I can still remember the first time I had the courage to take the elevator to the top floor of the Sears Tower. It’s over 1,400 ft. tall and rises up hundreds of stories. The elevator ride to the observation floor is even daunting. There are surveillance cameras everywhere, even before you get to the elevator. Signs are posted, warning people with medical conditions to consider twice before venturing to the top. All of this adds to the aura – you get the sense that this is going to be impressive.
Once at the top, the view is breath taking. You do literally “tower” over the Chicago skyline. The United Center is clearly visible – where Michael Jordan made basketball history -- Wrigley Field, home of the beloved Cubs, Soldier Field, the Chicago Harbor, the gothic-style Tribune building, (and somewhere off to the South – that’s where my family lives.) It’s quite a view!
St. Paul has a good view for us. It’s not from the top of a skyscraper. The window God’s Word gives us today looks out over the vast expanse of God’s compassion. And as we look out this window, we can exclaim with the apostle: WHAT A VIEW! 1) Of God’s Mercy and 2) Of Ourselves.
1) Of God’s Mercy
A view of God’s compassion and mercy – that’s what the apostle gives us. This view stretches as far as the eye can see. It goes way off into our future, over the precariously high peaks of unknown fears and worries. His mercy extends down to the serene valleys of our hopes and dreams. It stretches beyond our life here, and extends over the countless generations to come after us. It even goes beyond them, and on into eternity and the life to which the Lord has called us. What a view!
God had to lead us to such a view, though. He had to lead us by the hand to the observation deck, so we could see our lives rightly; to see back to when we were dead in sin, haters of God, condemned, destined for eternal hell. His mercy broke into full view on our past with the cross of Christ. There, his mercy—gloriously gory and superbly revolting mercy—God gave His own Son up for us all. That view of mercy goes back to cover the sins of the whole world, from that first offense of Adam, and pans out to offer forgiveness to every sinner who will ever live. That’s how vast God’s mercy and compassion reaches. And seeing that mercy in the past, opens up the vast view of God’s mercy that is upon us right now.
Our son Joseph enjoys looking out the sliding glass door at home. It’s not so much what he sees outside as it is what he sees in the glass. He sees his own reflection, and it makes him laugh because it looks as if he’s outside in the backyard playing in the sandbox or swinging in his swing. St. Paul has us look at a similar reflection, in this picture window of Romans 12. We’re looking out over the vast expanse of God’s mercy, and now, Paul has us see a little reflection of ourselves sitting, standing, living in and under that vast mercy outside the window.
Our view of ourselves, first and foremost, needs be a humble viewpoint. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
We must view ourselves under God’s MERCY here. Seeing ourselves under God’s mercy, we’ll remember what we are by nature: weak sinners, through and through. Looking at ourselves under God’s mercy is like looking at some of the old houses around here. To be honest, there are some houses in Abita Springs that just wouldn’t fit anywhere else. Take one of these old dilapidated shotgun homes and put it in the middle of Beau Chene. The Homeowners Association would be out there in a heartbeat nailing a condemned sign on it, and in the next, bulldozing it over. But for some reason, you take that same old house, and put it in the midst of the pines, surrounded by overgrown azaleas, rose bushes, magnolias, and people will come and insist they pay $100,000 for it. I suppose it’s because people have the sense that old shotgun house fits here. It belongs. For all its ruin, it makes the view. Yes, we’re sinners: but we belong in the view of God’s mercy! And in the wide-open expanse of his mercy, we bring out even more the glorious beauty that is there.
Paul says, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. In other words, be that old, worn out shotgun house in the meadow of God’s mercy. Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.