By Brooke Holt
“Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” The Collect, Book of Common Prayer
What do people desperately need to experience from the Lord and each other these days? Stop and really consider this question. What is lacking in this world of broken relationships, dreams, institutions (including the church), and people? What does this world need? What can bring about the much-needed healing and restoration?
According to our Collect for the day, it is God’s continual mercy. Of course, that begs the question—what is mercy? According to Merriam-Webster, mercy is “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.” How do you see this compassion demonstrated in the world today? Certainly not in Russia and Ukraine! What about these children who look into the eyes of shooters who enter their schools and beg for mercy? It is not mercy we see on the daily news but vengeance, anger, and misuse of power.
No wonder our world is such a mess! God has another way for his people, which begins in our churches and then spreads to the world. Sadly, even churches do not seem to operate in mercy. Where there are divisions in the interpretation of Scripture or the practices of God’s people, there is often war and then division. One group seeks to protect God and his church through judgment and withdrawal. The other group seeks to prove their points to be received or affirmed. They attack and devour those who seem to oppose them.
Is this what Jesus had in mind when he prayed that “they may all be one” (John 17:21)? Can the church heal and be reconciled? Only by receiving the continual mercy of the Lord! God has shown us mercy through the death and resurrection of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we receive forgiveness of sins instead of the condemnation we deserve. God shows us continual mercy in his compassion and kindness to us. We receive what we don’t deserve.
Yet, considering all God has done for us, we don’t show mercy to one another. We accuse, fight, cling to our rights, and ultimately, we hate those God has called us to love. This Collect reminds us of the way of Christ—the way of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. When we understand and receive what Jesus has done for us, we can extend that mercy to others through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, the church can be cleansed of hatred, division, anger, and ongoing division. Then the church can come together under the Lordship of Christ to find protection against Satan and all the evil forces of this world. When God’s people release their agendas, they can receive God’s agenda.
This miraculous healing can only occur by the blood of Jesus Christ and in the power of his Holy Spirit. May we embrace this healing for the church today!
Are you living in the continual mercy of the Lord? How does that impact how you treat others in the church and the world? How is God using you to cleanse and defend his church today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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