Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chapter 6/ Christ have Mercy

Chapter 6.  "Spoken free and living mercifully" is the title.  We have now a chapter on receiving and giving forgiveness in various settings.  The baptismal life, which we learned about in the last chapter, which both frees and obligates to living in mercy, is about constant forgiveness.  There is some law here.  We could be so much more forgiving and merciful with each other. But much more we have the freedom to do something constructive with this forgiveness.

And seizing [his fellow servant], he began to choke him, saying, "Pay what you owe."  Matthew 18:28.

After [confession and absolution]  we can do a lot of good [works] -- to the glory of God alone and to the benefit of our fellow-men.... for God give us his grace freely and without cost;  so we should also serve him freely and without cost.  Martin Luther. (p.75)

As an aside, there are people who do not want to hear any "should's", "ought's" and "must's" in the Christian life.   Christ's words could not be clearer.   We "should" forgive.  I am going to use the word "should".   The Luther quote says we "should" do it "freely".  It does sound like a guilt trip still, to say you "should freely", but how else are you going to say it?  We know the ability to do freely is only as far as the Lord's own love has it's way with us and our nature does not get in the way.  Sometimes I do freely, sometimes I do not, sometimes half-way.  I still "should" do it "freely".

HOWEVER, in this chapter we have no heavy handed treatment, whatsoever.  We can see clearly that forgiveness is the most wonderful thing of all.  We desire it.  We get it.  We give it.  We have moments in time which we will treasure together for eternity.  I like it.  It is the most natural thing for the Christian.

Yet, we also can be stingy with it.  And here the "should" comes in.  We do fail and we are harsh.  And we stand admonished.  And Jesus himself is the harshest of all, when it comes to someone not wanting to live mercifully.  We are not going to get around him.

The law is still the law and that's why forgiveness is so wonderful.  And this forgiveness is also there to serve the neighbor with.

So much for tonight.

No comments: