Coffee Creek Church Podcast

Was Blind, But Now I See p.2

January 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Coffee Creek Church Podcast
Was Blind, But Now I See p.2
Chapters
Coffee Creek Church Podcast
Was Blind, But Now I See p.2
Jan 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Pastor Clark Frailey
Show Notes Transcript

What is the connection between justice, mercy, humility and charity? In this series, Pastor Clark explores the tension between these ideas and offers ideas on how Christians can take the teachings from Micah 6 and Jesus and apply them to their daily lives.

Pastor Clark:
0:03
Hey, this is Clark Fraley, I'm the lead pastor at Coffee Creek Church and welcome to our podcast. I want to thank you for listening and remember it. This is free, so share it with a friend or hope is it inspires you and encourages you to love God and do good now. Enjoy today's message.
Speaker 2:
0:17
Cool.
Pastor Clark:
0:20
I remember learning about Frederick Douglass in school and I remember reading about his work as an abolitionist and I recall reading about a lot of his political activity, but I never really read much about what I'm going to share with you today, which some research has been done. It's not like it was a cover up or anything, but it just is not the popular story. I don't know. Sometimes we hear popular stories about famous characters in history and then sometimes we have to kind of uncover who they really were and it come to find out. Um, the book I was reading was talking about this is that Frederick Douglass is a radical Christian, like it was his Christian faith. In fact, as a, as a young boy, he learned to read and was reading the Bible, came to know Jesus through some free methodists who kind of discipled him and it actually those things he was learning about Jesus.
Pastor Clark:
1:16
And then the experience he was having an America as a slave, and then he was freed and then he was back into slavery. And then he ran away. Those experiences were a huge disconnect for him from reading the Gospels to experiencing how Christianity functioned in America. And one of the, probably the, the biggest, uh, writings from Douglas, you may remember this, is that he was talking about this idea of how the slave owner would go to church on Sunday and sing the songs and talk about this good and merciful God and Jesus and then Monday through Saturday beat his slaves and be an overall terrible person. And so he was really, his key message was not just one of political things is key messages. He wanted white Christian Americans to see the hypocrisy for what it was. He wanted them to see the sin of pretending to be one thing on Sunday and being another thing throughout the week.
Pastor Clark:
2:20
Isn't that curious? That's exactly what we found last week is we started this examination into justice in the book of Micah because the nation of Israel was doing the same thing later when Jesus comes around, he deals with a group of people called the Pharisees and it's the same exact thing. They kind of pretend to be religious when that's good and uh, when everyone's watching and then when they're not, they're kind of a terrible person. And so there's a huge disconnect between the word belief, right? That's why I really have tend to shy away from that word because it's almost meaningless to say that I believe something if my actions don't somehow attempt, not even saying we're perfect, right? But attempt to fulfill those beliefs. If they are diametrically opposed from one another, then it doesn't make much sense. And, and that's really what Douglas, when I was reading this biography of him was, was learning, is that his biggest point of contention was not one of political expediency. His biggest point was not one of economics. His biggest point was for Christians to recognize to identify the hypocrisy. In fact, he is one quote from Douglas, he said, between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.
Pastor Clark:
3:41
When you read something like that and you feel the weight of that throughout history, it's a bit depressing, isn't it? It is. To me, it's just very sad that someone would look at us and say, yeah, you claim Christianity in this land, but boy, you're actions are completely the opposite. Can you see then maybe the perspective some people have and the difficult pill it is to swallow to call Christian article America, a Christian nation. Can you see how that's difficult for people to maybe say a accept and say, Oh yes, I. I clearly see that in your actions and in who you are not even asking for perfection, but saying the widest possible difference isn't like you're a different flavor of Christianity. It isn't that you're just a little bit off of the Christian mark. It is that you are completely opposed to some of the teachings of Jesus and how you execute your system of a nation.
Pastor Clark:
4:39
This again goes back to that idea of being blind, but then later seeing, I wonder what Douglas might say about an America in 2019 when he look at our country and say the same thing, what he say, yeah, you talk a good game as a Christian land and yet your actions don't match up to that and maybe, and this is what's wild to contemplate and to chew on. I was chewing on that this last week. I wonder if he wouldn't even think it's worse than it was in the midst of slavery because there's so many different things now we do to hurt other people and that is where I want to land on today. I'm going to hit that really hard today. This will not be an easy thing for any of us in this room. It will not be an easy message today and I don't.
Pastor Clark:
5:26
I just want to. I'm just trying. This is the disclaimer, right? You may feel uncomfortable at some point today, so buckle in because this is what happens when the gospel gets in front of us and confronts who we are. Sometimes it, I was reading this stuff this week. I mean, I was reading the scriptures this week, felt terribly uncomfortable. Jesus talking to the Pharisees, felt like he was talking to me. So, uh, I assume that there will be some of you today that will feel very uncomfortable with where we go. And, and that's okay. I want you to know that my job is not to make you feel comfortable. My job is to help you, hopefully give you a future and a vision of, of moving forward in the Gospel and growing in the Gospel. If I were to always keep you on the milk, have you know what?
Pastor Clark:
6:05
Everything's gonna be fine and Koombaya and we all hold hands, right? That wouldn't be very good. Like we have to at some point, start moving forward on some of those things. So just this last week was a little tough. Mercy might even be worse. That's where we're going to go today with mercy. And this idea of how do we treat others. Last week we went, we kind of focused on this idea using the Puerto Rican experience from last summer. We looked at that idea and said, how hard is it to get into someone else's shoes right today? Mercy does not require us to necessarily get into someone else's shoes. It just requires us to be kind to all people, right? It's the that God has a divine good in mind for all of creation people you like at work, people you don't like, people in your family that you don't want to talk to, that you're estranged from people that you don't like on your street, that neighbor that will not fix that thing, that neighborhood will not mow their lawn, right?
Pastor Clark:
6:57
God loves all of these people. They're all a part of his creation and he's called us in a supernatural way to also love them. People that we despise, people that we don't get along with, people that have been mean to us. He calls us to understand they are a part of his creation and this is not possible in normal human terminology, right? That's not something that we want to do. That's not something we'd be encouraged to do. Um, I can't tell you how many of those little pop psychology TV shows, clips I've seen about cut them off and cut them loose and get rid of them out of your life and just move on. And, and you know, the more that you hear that kind of stuff, the more that you realize that's a very dehumanizing language and a very dehumanizing way of talking about things because God looks at all of his creation and he has an idea of good for all people.
Pastor Clark:
7:45
In fact, it's why we're told to love our neighbors ourselves, not because our neighbors like us, but because our neighbor is different than us and to love them as ourself is a really difficult proposition. Jesus called this. I'm loving your neighbor as yourself. The golden rule we have called that sometimes it is this idea of wanting for others what you have and so if you are taken care of and you were fed and clothed and you have shelter, then you want that for every other person. That is what the golden rule is about. I don't know why we don't talk about that more and it was uncomfortable. I don't know what we avoid in that, but I think there's this idea that we are more like scavengers. I don't know if you've watched any of the post apocalyptic movies out there. Did I just mess that up?
Pastor Clark:
8:33
That bad post apocalyptic. Whew. That is tough to say. Um, but if you've watched any of those movies are read those books, uh, you know, that there's kind of this scarcity mindset, right? So how many stores are left open that are going to have canned goods and how many people do I have to kill in order to secure that for my me and my little group of people. And then what of battles are they're going to be? And I think the reason it's so popular, I mean, you can look at the young teen fiction that's out there that deals with all of this. You can deal with the movies that are out there. I mean, you can go back as far as like Huxley's work, brave new world. You can go to 1984, I mean you can go back a long way. We've been fascinated with a post apocalyptic world, this idea of scarcity of resources and the drama that ensues and how does that work and what does that look like, but sometimes we live in a very full land of plenty and we act like people that are living in a post apocalyptic world.
Speaker 3:
9:29
I mean,
Pastor Clark:
9:30
isn't it odd to you that there would be any child hungry in America when you go to places and you see how much is thrown away mean? To me, that's an odd, odd, odd predicament to think about. It's not that the resources aren't there. I was talking to a friend at a food bank about this idea. It's not that the resources aren't there, it's just unlocking those resources and getting them to the right people at the right time.
Pastor Clark:
10:00
Common good of all people. Jesus calls the golden rule. To love your neighbor as yourself. We can be blind to this if we absolve ourselves, if we remove any responsibility for other people, and I think that's intentionally why Jesus says you do love your neighbor as yourself is part of it. You can't just love God. You can't just come to church on Sunday and worship God and and give a sacrifice or given offering a pray in his name and go on your merry way. There's a second part. Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself because it might be easy to say, Oh, I love God. Right? I think the Pharisees would have said that. I think Israel is a nation would have definitely said, oh, we love God, of course, but it's that second part that's like, okay, now take some action towards that.
Pastor Clark:
10:46
Justice was last week. We looked in Micah. Today we're going to talk about mercy because it is similar, but a little bit different of a concept. Uh, there was a popular thing that was shared this last week on social media, made the rounds. It was a clip from the New York Times. Perhaps you read it in the Times. Perhaps you read it as a retweet or you read it as a share somewhere, but there was uh, a reporter, they went down to Florida who has been ravaged by some hurricanes down there, right? And there's a little town in Florida that something like 90 percent of the people in that area work for the federal government and we're in the middle of a shut down right now. And so sometimes when you're in a community not connected to federal jobs, very much, you're kind of disconnected from that. And so we have a percentage of people in Edmond that have federal jobs, but it's not anything like 90 percent.
Pastor Clark:
11:41
Right? And so this little town about 90, I think it was 80 to 90 percent of the people worked for a federal prison. And so with the way that the shut down is affecting them, they wanted to interview people that were being affected by the government shutdown. And they interviewed a single mom and uh, she had voted for Donald Trump. And yet she said she had this kind of response in mind. She said, I'm just not sure that he's doing what I've asked them to do, and this was the exact quote that really grabbed the attention. Look in the middle paragraph. I voted for him and he's the one who's doing this. She said, Mr Trump, I thought he was going to do good things. He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting. Not a very thoughtful friend in Tulsa shared this. And um, I did.
Pastor Clark:
12:28
I had made the mistake of reading the comments under it, right? And never supposed to read the comments on facebook. Don't ever do that. Uh, but it was interesting how different people responded to this text. They got wrapped up in the personality of the president. And I think that's unfortunate because there's something much deeper at play here that jumps off the page. If you think about this in the context of what your pastor was studying this week about mercy and about where we're at as a church and studying mercy and justice and the common good and that thing that jumped off the page to me was that any American would think that they succeed by hurting other people, but the only way to success is by hurting other people, by stepping on others. All of a sudden I thought, you know what? We're in. We're in a scarcity mindset.
Pastor Clark:
13:21
It's like Mad Max and we've got to. We've got to get what's ours and we've got to take from others, and that's really not God's ideal for any nation, much less a nation that wants to claim to be a Christian nation. In essence, my liberty is very important. My freedom is very important. My choices are very important, but they are not absolute. My liberty is not absolute and I know that and you know that we enter something called a social contract, that we have a responsibility one to the other. It's the whole idea of our country and we're not in this alone, that we as a nation would be right, that we are a nation of people with like values and so my freedom is important, but it is limited in as much as it hurts other people, so I can't have an absolute freedom. It's why I get a ticket if I go too fast because the police officer doesn't want me to wreck into your car and to destroy your whole day in car and maybe killed someone in your family.
Pastor Clark:
14:21
It's why there are limits to my freedom. Unfortunately I can't go 150 miles an hour on coffee creek road if I want to. I mean I might get away with it once, but I'm going to get caught pretty quick and it's going to be a hefty fine or my driver's license taken away. It's a reason we have things like that in place. My liberty has limits. Freedom of speech is when we talk about a lot is unlimited and we think that, but we're silly when we think that because there's no freedom that is completely unlimited and it can't be. For instance, freedom of speech is limited by the clear and present danger laws. You know you're not allowed to go into a crowded theater and yell fire. You would cause a riot and you would cause chaos, and so you're not allowed to say just anything you want.
Pastor Clark:
14:59
You're not allowed to threaten the life of the president. You're. There's certain things you're not allowed to do and we understand that when someone explains it to us, that there are limits on those things. We don't have to think like this. This is America at its worst and this is a complete violation of the Christian morality and the ideas that Jesus has given to us that we don't have to violate the golden rule in order to survive and in order to thrive and we actually do better. You're actually stronger as a people. We're stronger as a church. We're stronger as families and neighborhoods and communities. When we think about others needs, chesterson wrote it years ago, he said the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It's been found difficult and left untried. I think he's right. I think so many times it's not the living the Christian life is to, uh, one thing, have good values and morals or that it would even not have good outcomes.
Pastor Clark:
16:00
It's just, it's very difficult to do. It's not easy. And so because we say, oh, well, it's too hard to try. We just don't even attempt it. And, and that's where we come back to this idea of this series. We have taken salvation from the song. This is written about amazing grace. We've made a grace and amazing grace, have very personal experience with God. And we've taken that to heart and said, well, I'm so glad that I have grace from God for me, but we've almost hoarded that to the point that we forget that, that grace, as opposed to transform us. It's not just for us to pack away into our hearts and to be happy and to put in our back pocket and to sit on that grace that God has given us is to be reflected and turned around. It's why the Bible talks about salvation and God's wisdom to us like a light that we shouldn't hide, that we should give it away to others. It is not intended to be something that we just assent to mentally. It is intended to transform and to change everything in our life from the social structures to the way that we talk about people to the way that we treat people to our talent, to our time usage, to our treasurer. The stuff that God's given us and blesses with. All of that is comes under the veil of understanding that transformation.
Pastor Clark:
17:17
That's the sign of it changing us and the sign shortly that I haven't really changed is that I ascent mentally. I say, Oh yeah, I believe all those things, but it doesn't change anything on Monday morning. That is the most definite 100 percent proof in the pudding. No fruit on the vine picture of what it means to live in untransformed live
Pastor Clark:
17:38
a life not really worth pursuing at that point because we say, well, uh, I believe in Jesus, but I'm not going to do anything about it. I believe in him, and then at that point the word becomes so cheap that we say, what does that even mean to you? What does that mean to say that you believe that Jesus is the resurrected son of God? What does it mean to you to say that you believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that no one comes to the father except by him. What does that mean to believe those things if we do not latch on and change our actions to match those things? Well, Micah, this is the problem in Micah chapter six and we got into last week. Israel is trying to kind of weasel their way around and get out of it like they're looking for the holes in the contract, right?
Pastor Clark:
18:24
They're trying to be. And really, it's funny because the Pharisees and the scribes right describes where the legal scholars of the day, they are looking for loopholes and so they're, they're asking kind of rhetorically I think, but they're asking, you know, what is it a sacrifice that God wants money and they offer up their first born children and then my kid gets to a point where he's kind of just done with all this conversation. He's like, you know what God wants. And so he told him last week in chapter six, verse eight, he said, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. This is what God requires of you. You know, this is not difficult. Now this verse is said in different ways in different chapters of the Old Testament, and Jesus kind of even modifies it a little bit and it uses the same kind of construction in the same way.
Pastor Clark:
19:10
This is what? This is what religion is. This is the definition of pure religion is the definition of what God is asking us. And so last week I asked the question, what does God require of me? I think sometimes we ask that, what is, what do you want, what do you want from me, God? And so to act justly, we focus on justice last week. Well, today we're gonna. Look at this idea of loving mercy because, um, as I read that I kind of grabbed, grasped a justice more clearly. I thought then maybe what it means to love mercy. So let's look at that idea for a minute. The word mercy here in the Hebrew is Hessen. And this is a very difficult word to bring into English. As you might imagine, anytime you translate a foreign language into English, it's not perfect. This is a difficult one.
Pastor Clark:
19:57
Some translators use loving kindness. You may have a version of the Bible translation that says loving kindness. Some use grace, it's over, or it's almost 250 times in the Hebrew Bible that you see this word Hesset for mercy. Almost every translation will choose mercy most times, unless it just contextually doesn't make sense, but mercy, but it's not mercy in the sense of just, um, like we use the word mercy sometimes to describe a feeling kind of like I'm feeling merciful today. Maybe I'm, it's not that at all. So it's not that English usage is the usage of doing mercy. So I'm actually, I'm granting grace to someone. A mercy is when I grant grace is someone that can earn it. It doesn't deserve it. I give it freely. And so mercy in this sense is the sense that Israel was crying out for and it's the sense that they needed from Jesus the Messiah who would come to be the ultimate culmination of that mercy.
Pastor Clark:
20:58
But it's not. Um, it's not just thinking about mercy. It's not like, Oh, that's a merciful person. It is the action of doing mercy. And so it's important as we think about this unique word, I was reading this first century [inaudible] commentary. They were talking about the idea that this word, a Hasad or mercy is one of the most important words in the entire Bible. Because it really sums up the whole nature of God for us. I read another author that said, if you want the the entire Gospel from the New Testament in one word, it is acid, it is mercy. It is this idea that God has had a plan in mind for a long, long time for us, and so God is putting all of this together. It's doing something for someone that has no claim, so like us, we have no claim to Jesus.
Pastor Clark:
21:44
We have no claim that he should go to the cross. For us, it is a thing given freely that you cannot earn, you cannot buy, you can't work hard enough for and so you can't work yourself into it. You can't work yourself out of it. It is given freely and that's what mercy looks like here. But it's difficult sometimes to hear that truth. I think of little kids how they play that game. Peekaboo, you know, they hide their eyes and they may do that. I was at the grocery store down the road here in uptown, I think it was last week or week before. No, push my little cart around. Throwing a few things in and there was this little girl in the produce section and her mom was, I think she was like looking at a recipe. She was on her phone and I think she was looking for something that she had to buy, but she was kind of away from the car and little girl was in the, the uh, you know, the seat in the front and I'm of the cart and she was looking at me and she was kind of doing this and she was like, boom, boom.
Pastor Clark:
22:38
And so, um, I was in a good mood and so I kinda went back, right. And so we're playing this little game. She's giggling and cracking up in the mom kind of looks up from her phone, like, why is my child giggling? And it looks over this weird dude who's playing peekaboo with their child. And uh, after security had a long talk with me, we, uh, no, I'm just kidding. No, I think she was like, oh, look at that old man. You know. Isn't that cute? Cute little old man wandering aimlessly. He only has a loaf of bread. I was getting, oh, it was communion bread. That's what I was getting. I was getting communion bread and uh, you know, I had two loaves of bread and this car, she's like, he's lost his mind. He's absent minded. A little old man playing peekaboo with my daughter.
Pastor Clark:
23:15
I think so. Uh, but it was funny. I was thinking about children do that, you know, and I had a cousin in the, he was a couple years younger than me and we played hide and go seek a lot and he had this trick that every time that I would find him, he would close his eyes and say, you can't see me. And I'm like, well, I can see you and hear you. So this is not helpful to your case at all. As you think about the childhood kind of a nature, that childlike nature of doing the hiding of the eyes and the and the peekaboo and trying to hide. It's funny to us and we're like, oh whoa, those silly kids. But if you think about Adam and eve, they did the same exact thing. They tried to hide from God and there is no, I mean they could have built a bunker a million miles underground and you're not hiding from God, but they tried to cover up and hide from God and you know, he, he discovers them and we think that's silly too.
Pastor Clark:
24:04
But the funny thing is, is how many times do we do that same exact thing. We don't want to hear it. We don't want to hear that racial discrimination is still a thing in America. I don't want to hear it. I didn't. What I really didn't want to hear is I didn't want to hear it was a thing in the church still. That was the hardest thing for me to hear. I think I, I grew up with a fairly idealistic person and so when I heard it in the church, the first time it, it felt like a knife. It hurts so bad. And you know, I'm older now. I was in my twenties, so I'm older now, a couple years older, not much older, but a little bit, uh, uh, it still hurts. It still hurts to hear those kinds of attitudes. And maybe people were raised with or maybe a grandparent passed on because I don't think we're born that way.
Pastor Clark:
24:49
I think it's taught or what your gender discrimination or racial discrimination or we hear you know about those people. Um, we just, we just have to have a point of honesty at some point where you say, that's not what the Bible says. You know, that's, I mean, the Bible is explicit. There's neither Jew nor Greek. That's race. There's neither male nor female that's gender at the foot of the cross. Every single person is equal that God is God has done something special in Jesus. And for us to miss that 2019 years later is huge. And for us to continue to miss that and you know, we can't press our beliefs on society at large. I wouldn't ever say that like a society is never going to buy into everything that we have to say. They want to take certain things away from us and use that against us.
Pastor Clark:
25:38
Both, both conservatives, liberals, whatever everyone wanna call them. Right? And the left, the middle. It's all about money and power and stuff. For them, but they want to kind of piece us apart from each other, but if we were to come back and have a core of understanding about while Jesus was teaching, we would understand, understand something really rich about our faith, that it doesn't belong to any group of people, not one group of people, and we as gentiles should understand that more than anybody like it was not for us. Mica is not talking to us. Mike is talking to the Israelites. It is Jesus later who comes to us and even at that point, there's a moment and I've got some really good research on this. We'll share an two weeks from now talking about how we became part of God's family in the first place that we were welcomed in. So we really ought to understand mercy injustice and the fact that we were outsiders. We were not welcoming at first. We were not a part of this plan. We are not. I mean, we're part of God's plan, but as far as the people telling us the plan, it was going to be, zip number's going to be any words to us or we're going to be missionaries aren't going to be people telling us the good news. It wasn't intended for us because we were like dogs. We were lower than low
Pastor Clark:
26:55
and yet God's plan was to expand his kingdom and to bring us in and through his son Jesus, to allow us to understand mercy and grace and peace and truth. You know, it's uncomfortable, isn't it? When you're driving, you pull up to a stoplight and there's a homeless person with a sign there. It's uncomfortable. Hey, it might be one of the most uncomfortable things I go through and, and not the not knowing of that situation I know is a huge thing. We want to ask all these questions. You know, we're like Judas, we want to say what was the money being spent best that way. I mean, I feel the question rise up in my chest and at the same time I feel the conviction of Judas on me,
Pastor Clark:
27:39
but really are we thinking about ourselves and what makes us feel most comfortable or are we able to put ourselves in that person's shoes and to say, I wonder if their needs are being met. I'm satisfied. I got full this morning. I had a great breakfast. I wonder if they did because that's what it requires to live the life that Jesus sets before us. That's the way, right? It requires us to look at other people, to not ignore them, to not do the childish thing, to not do this thing, but to hear them and to understand that they may have a point that we don't get because we were raised differently. I, I joked last week about where I was raised and I love where I was raised. I love the people. I love the community, but you know, until you get outside of that a little bit, it's difficult to have a perspective of anything other than that little circle of friends you have and that little circle of where you're at. It's difficult to hear people. It's difficult to see where they're coming from and so we hide our eyes from that truth. We plug our ears to that thing. There was a Jewish theologian and philosopher who said it this way one time and it really hit me. He said, the shallowness of our moral comprehension, the incapacity to sense the depth of misery caused by our own failures is a simple fact of fallen humanity, which no explanation can justify or hide.
Pastor Clark:
28:55
This is what Israel was trying to do with Micah. They were trying to absolve themselves of the depth of misery they caused by their actions. This is what the Pharisees try to do with Jesus. They try to absolve themselves of the depth of the misery caused by their actions and probably Christians in churches just like this in the height of the abolition movement that we're trying to come up with some sort of way to contort this, the words of Jesus to support their actions because of economic reasons. Man, they were trying hard and it had to be that moment where they were trying to absolve themselves. They couldn't bear the weight of the depth of the misery they had caused by their own moral failings. So it behooves us to likewise question, to wonder and to be open to listening to others about what we do in our contemporary time. In the same way
Pastor Clark:
29:57
it it, it makes us wonder, what are we doing? Just like Jesus, he had a talk with some pharisees. He said, woe to you teachers of the law. What do you teach or the law? You Pharisees, you hypocrites. You give a 10th of your spices, your mint, your deal, your cumin, but you have neglected. The more important matters of the law, justice, mercy, faithfulness. You hear Micah being drugged thousands of years into the future. Micah, you should have practiced the ladder without neglecting the former. Yeah, it's good for you to give. He says it's good for you to be generous with what you've been blessed with, but at the same time, you cannot give up on justice and mercy and faithfulness and what I read when I read this, I read Jesus doing exactly what we talked about last week. He is addressing the tension between charity and justice and there is a tension there. It's wonderful when people write checks to do good. It's awesome when people give out of what they've been blessed with. It's amazing when they feed the hungry. It's amazing when they give toys to kids at Christmas. It's awesome to give a bed to a kid that doesn't have a bed that is charity and that is awesome. That makes the paper, it makes for good instagram photos. It goes on social media and everyone will applaud that, but Jesus says it's not all of the picture
Pastor Clark:
31:19
because if you're not living a life of justice, a life of loving mercy in a life of faithfulness, then you have disconnected those things like the Pharisees did, and in that moment you've neglected what you should have been doing the whole time. He says, those things can't be divorced from one another. They're tied together. Charity injustice go hand in hand. Charity actually auto sparked some questions for us. When we feed the hungry, we ought to ask why. All right, why am I having to feed this person? Like what is behind this? And it might be a myriad of reasons, right? There might be lots of different things going on. There might be socioeconomic things in the homeless community. We know there's huge mental health issues, like there's a lot of different complex layers to that. It's not one thing. I'm not trying to say it's easy, but we are saying if Jesus is quite clear in his teachings on this, then we probably shouldn't neglect justice and shouldn't neglect mercy and shouldn't neglect faithfulness.
Pastor Clark:
32:15
In our time as well, just like Israel tried to do a in Mica, these folks try to do today, they wanted to do all kinds of number of activity. They want it to be so busy, right? They're like, look, we'll go get the fatted calf will get our first more on bringing the kids in. Let's mean, what do you want? You want money? It's like, no, you're trying to be so busy. It's not about being busy. It's about doing the simple, difficult things that God requires, but like children, we like to hide, to hide and we're not playing a game with God. I don't think. I don't think most of us trying to play a game with God, but we're, uh, we're hiding for sure. We like to hide because we're afraid that we're not worthy of the mercy God has for us. We're afraid that our actions are so bad and evil that God couldn't forgive us.
Pastor Clark:
33:07
And then for some reason we also in the same breath can turn around and not give mercy to other people and we become really judgmental. And do you see how those two things are tied together? Because they really are. If you have the backwards thinking that you have to earn God's mercy, it is very easy. Then to transpose that onto your fellow mankind and to say, oh well, they also have to earn mercy so they're not worthy. They don't work hard enough. There are. Skin isn't the right color. They're not the right gender. They don't come from the right country. They live in a different place than me. They don't have the same kind of values as I do. There are the other. They don't deserve my mercy. They don't deserve. I've worked hard for what I got. They don't deserve. And when we put ourselves into that kind of performance based Matrix and we have wrong thinking, that's how God operates too.
Pastor Clark:
34:00
It's easy to see how difficult that whole is to dig out of. But instead, if we understand that we have no claim on what God has done on the cross with Jesus, we have no claim on any of that. We can't help enough people. We can't give enough. We cannot earn our weight. To that point, no amount of money can buy it, no amount of work. You can't work hard enough, you can't organize enough. No one can earn those things. It is a free gift. Mercy is given to those who don't deserve it or it's not mercy, it's a violation of the definition of the word. If it's earned, it's not mercy. And so if you understand that you are the recipient of an incredible amount of mercy, then I think it's easier to turn around and reflect that towards other people and say, you know, what, these people
Speaker 3:
34:52
or where is he
Pastor Clark:
34:56
now the popular word in the last few years because there's kind of a mindset. And I was reading some, I was reading a book from the thirties that a, I'm a Catholic bishop road and he was talking about some old encyclicals from the 18 hundreds, um, that, that had been written. These are kind of, um, it's difficult to describe an encyclical. I don't ride in cyclical, so I don't, I don't have a lot of experience with them, but it's kind of like a declaration, if you will. Okay. And so they were talking about the different political ideologies popping up in the 19 thirties in America and how they were trying to pull us apart as a nation, and I'm reading this, I'm going, the names are changed, but it's the same exact thing happening and I was reading this and it was so rich because I was thinking about that word entitlement.
Pastor Clark:
35:42
Entitlement kept popping out because so many times when I've talked about mercy to people and how we ought to think about others needs and we ought to care for, for all people, all God's creation. Sometimes that word entitlement pops up. Well, why do they deserve that? They feel like they're entitled to those things. And so I typically push back and say, no, no, it's not an entitlement. It's just the good of all people we have to be concerned about. But then this bishop said this and it really just kind of rocked my whole thinking on that. He said, restore true love and worship of God and you will have true love of neighbor because you see the good of your neighbor and the good. Do your neighbor in light of their dignity made in the image of God, so all of a sudden for me, at least
Pastor Clark:
36:27
reading his work, changed my mindset because I thought, well, actually, I guess the homeless person is entitled to Food and shelter in my care and my concern and mercy. They're entitled to mercy not because of something they've earned, not because of something they've done, not because of their name sake and not because of how hard they've worked or how how much of a failure they've been. None of that is important. It is because of who created them. They have dignity because they are made of the Imago Dei. They are made in the image of God, the Creator himself. They are a representation of what God has done here on earth. He's made every single person in his image, and so in that sense, they are entitled then to good. My neighbor who doesn't look like me, he doesn't act like me. Who doesn't have a lifestyle like I do, who doesn't use the right words, who doesn't dress appropriately? He doesn't treat his family well. All of that, none of that matters. He's do dignity because he's made in the image of God, much like me, I've received much mercy, not because of anything I ever did because of who I am and how the words I speak are how good of a person I imagined myself to be, how I imagined my sins under others. None of that's important. The only reason I have mercy is because of a good God, a Jesus who went to the cross and said, father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing, who was resurrected and through that God has provided for me a mercy beyond my comprehension,
Pastor Clark:
38:02
and then when I turned that around and I become more Christ like than Clark like and I become more Christ like I start to turn that around and say, you know what? Other people are do mercy as well, and it's mercy because they don't. They don't earn it. It's free and in a way a dying and hurting world is looking for us to have that answer. To not be like every single other system in the world. Yeah. These six steps are how you get to God. These six steps are how you get to nirvana these six ways or how you achieve success in life, how you lose weight, 10 easy ways to do this one simple trick and you'll set your financial and your relationships up for success. The world is full of garbage like that and they're looking for anyone with an answer that's real, but what they see so many times, just like Frederick Douglass saw, just like Micah saw, just like Jesus saw so many times they see a disconnect between the Christian talk and the Christian walk, and so they say it's not real. It's not real, not because they've actually looked at the Bible, not because they've actually listened to Jesus, not because they've let his message and these teachings impact your life, but they judge all of it on the external appearance of the fact that it hasn't transformed many of us.
Pastor Clark:
39:23
We have a appearance, but not a real faith to me then doing mercy, doing mercy, not talking mercy, not studying mercy, but doing mercy authenticates to a lost and dying world. Our belief in Jesus. I would offer that a Christianity divorced from mercy being given to those in your life. Those in this world is not worth very much at all,
Speaker 3:
39:50
but
Pastor Clark:
39:52
a mercy that you start to foster and like a fire, you don't let go out, but you Kendall and you grow and you stoke that fire and you fuel that fire with new ways and exciting new things to do in this adventure that God's put before you and you allow yourself to be stretched into ways that you're not comfortable with right now and you allow your mercy to flow through you. You allow God to work in you in a way you never had before. I believe that authenticates to your lost friends, your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, students or classmates. They see that and they understand that something is different in your life because you have experienced a grace and mercy beyond human understanding and that's what I want to pray for you today because I believe that's the power of the Gospel. It is transformative.
Pastor Clark:
40:40
It does not leave us. It is not comfortable with us sitting at first base. It wants to move us to the next day. He wants to move us to the next. It's not comfortable holding the line and just being a very basic and simplistic understanding, but God wants to move us forward and I am praying that this will be a time for you to make that commitment right now. Would you pray that with me today? If you're ready to receive mercy from Jesus, if you were a recipient of mercy of Jesus and you are ready to say, yes, I want to allow that mercy to flow through me. This is an opportunity for you to pray. If you're not ready for that, that is fine, but I invite you while the rest of us are praying about that to say, God, what is next for me? Those would you ready to pray with me to receive mercy from Jesus and to become those conduits of mercy? Would you pray this with me? Dear Jesus, today, we thank you so much for your grace and your and your mercy in this moment. May we deal with the conviction of the heart that comes when we realize we have been hardened to others, people that are all we feel like on the outside people we feel like there are different than us.
Pastor Clark:
41:50
God, you've told us for a long time that we can't do anything to earn your love, your mercy, your grace, so truly in this moment, I pray for each of us that you would encourage us whether we take this to the classroom tomorrow or to our neighborhood this afternoon or even within our own families, to our friends, our coworkers, God, that we would be people of mercy, knowing that we're in this for the long haul and that results may not come immediately, but the consistent application of mercy will lead to great results because we have faith in you. God may you use even today as a moment of faith for us where we can step out of what's comfortable and step into understanding where others are coming from and we be people in 2019 who don't give up on the dream of following your son Jesus in his name that we pray. Amen.