We live in a world full of words like do, perform, succeed, reward, achieve. We keep our eyes on the biggest and best possible version of something and try to attain it via any route that will get us there.
Time and time and time again, we fall short of our goal. We fall short of what we think will complete our joy. We fall short of what we think we are required to do in order to attain righteousness.
I know for certain that I am a victim of this mindset.
We hear it all the time in sermons. Especially on the topic of justification. It is said that by Jesus’ work on the cross, we are justified in the eyes of the Father. No longer do works of the law fulfill atonement, rather, it’s by justification by faith and faith alone.
And I don’t want to write more about justification. Because it doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t experience justification yourself.
I think it’s kind of ironic that the times when I find the most peace in the day (or evening) is when I’m giving thanks to my God. It’s when I’m falling to my knees, crying out “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord Jesus”. It’s when I’m genuinely anxious about the interests of others and I find myself laying those anxieties before the One who already knows and is already at work.
In other words, I know that justification by faith is real and true when I am merciful towards my God. Jesus exclaims to the Pharisees in Matthew 12 that “something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’, you would not have condemned the innocent” 12:6-7.
Have mercy on me, Lord! For giving you burnt offerings when all you desire is mercy. Have mercy on me for my shortcomings. Have mercy on me for my sins. Have mercy on me. Have mercy on me, Dear God.
In a sense it’s degrading to offer burnt offerings before God. It’s degrading to Jesus Christ, because HE gave the ultimate sacrifice of his LIFE on the cross so that we may be right with God and our sins would be covered. And he did. My sacrifices do not work. I am not justified through them. I achieve nothing of lasting significance. It is Jesus on the cross that I should look at in regards to what a real sacrifice even looks like. A completely righteous, sinless man taking the cross in obedience to his Father.
Sometimes I think that God looks at my failed attempts to be a better Ali and simply laughs. While I’m flailing about, grasping onto anything that I believe will bring me life, He’s holding me in the palm of his hand. He waits and whispers, “Come, Ali. Come”.
We are human. We are not Jesus. Nor does God want us to be Jesus. Yes, we should strive to be in His likeness, but that’s different than trying to BE Him. Instead of desiring sacrifice of any sort, God desires our mercy. And for us to repent. And for us to stumble into his arms broken, weak, and emptied of attempted-sacrifices. AMEN!
It’s a perspective-shift from what the world tells us. The society of our world tells us just the opposite, actually: to arrive prepared. To arrive stronger. To arrive smarter. To arrive with a clean slate. To finish whatever mess you’ve created before you come. Jesus speaks to people and assures us that these are lies. This is exactly why he was the most wanted man around town. His beliefs were so radically different than what society was telling Israel in those days.
I know fosho that I need help being a merciful creature. But if I know anything at all, it’s that the Word is love. If I know anything at all, it’s that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” John 14:6. And he is, he knows, and he will.