January 24, 2011

Mercy, Peace, and Love

May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you (Jude 2)

Now, admittedly, it may sound, in Jude 2, like our author is simply inserting a few religious clich├ęs for lack of anything better to say. “Mercy”, “peace”, and “love” are words that are thrown around so meaninglessly in our day that we may think that Jude, too, is simply plugging them in here to fill a little space, or to buy himself some time until he can think of what he wants to say next. The same way we interject the same tired phrases into our prayers, time and again, for lack of anything more thoughtful to say: ‘Lead, guide, and direct us’; ‘Bless her in a special way’; ‘Bless the gift and the giver’; or, ‘Forgive us where we fail Thee’; and so on!

But surely, guided by the Holy Spirit, the half-brother of the Lord is not merely throwing away words, is he? Surely we can’t just skim over Jude 2, thinking to ourselves: ‘Mercy, peace, and love. Well, all the apostles say something like that at the beginning of their letters, so let’s just scuttle along to verse 3 to find out what Jude’s really on about in this letter.’ No. If Jude wishes us mercy, peace, and love … then we ought to receive it! And we ought to think about what each of those words mean!

What a blessing that Jude (and the Holy Spirit in back of him) wishes us “mercy.” What is mercy? Well, in definition form, it’s when someone does something for you that you cannot do for yourself. In picture form, it’s the Good Samaritan sliding off his donkey and onto his knees to bandage the wounds of the fallen traveler in Luke 10. It’s Boaz leaving out extra scraps of grain for poverty stricken Ruth to stumble across as she scavenges for food. And it is the Lord coming, in human flesh, to the earth ... to live a sinless life that we ourselves have not lived; to die in our place; and to rise from the dead so that we too might walk in newness of life. He has bent down to do for us what we could never do for ourselves – rescuing us from sin’s penalty, and it’s power. He has set us free from Satan’s bondage so that we, like Hosea’s wife Gomer, don’t have to go back to our prostitution. That’s “mercy”! And that’s not just a throw away word!

And then there is “peace”. And, O, all the things the Bible says to believers regarding peace! Most importantly, because Jesus bore God’s wrath in our place, we have peace with God. And, not only that, but in Christ we also have peace with God's people. By adopting us all into one big family, Christ broke down the wall between Jew and Gentile, black and white, slave and free. None of those categories matter a whit to us if we belong to one and the same Father! And then, of course, the gospel also offers us the peace of God … namely the contentment and tranquility that can be ours if we’ll just be child-like with the Lord; if we’ll just believe that He really will do what He says and provide all our needs according to His riches in glory. What a difference Christ makes. He settles us. He calms us. He, if we will simply take Him at His word and keep our hearts staid upon Him, puts our hearts in perfect peace!

And it’s all because of “love”. Why did God send His Son? Why is He so merciful? Why has He made peace with us by the blood of Jesus’ cross? Not because He is obligated! And certainly not because we deserve it. But simply because of His great love for us! What else could motivate Him to forgive all that He forgives … at the cost of His Son’s blood and tears? What else can we say but that this God must love us immensely? His affection for His people knows no explanation, and has no motivation, and comes from no other origin except that God, very simply, is love!

Do you know His love? Have you experienced the mercy of Christ? Do you have peace with God, and with His people, and with your circumstances? Jude prays that you would … in “multiplied” measure! And so do I!

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