Friday, March 05, 2004

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee 4

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me): Finding Grace to Live Unmasked by John Fischer on Amazon

Step 4: "We have decided that we don't want to get what we deserve after all, and we don't want anyone else to either,"

A few notes on the text: "just [full-of-justice] mercy" and "just [simply] mercy"! Mercy, compassion, graciousness, patience, chesed, abundant love: freedom to the captives, good news to the poor enacted "this day!" We know that as the familiar text about Jesus' entry into public ministry, but these days we're the body of Christ, so we need to be and do all of those image-of-God characteristics today, "this day!"

John Fischer refers to Jonah, the prophet reluctant to include everyone – all creation, but especially those skuzzy not-like-righteous-Jonah others – in God's love, mercy and reconciliation. Then we had Peter bar Jonah, another one disinclined to extend the inclusiveness of Gospeled community to those not like him. Us? From my own standpoint, I've written a little about it in Steps 1, 2 and 3. On to the questions!

1. In what way can a parent showing mercy to a child be more effective than by showing justice? Who are the child's primary reflection of God's nature and character?

12 steps for the recovering phariseeI like the example our author gave about his dad and the justice/mercy pair. My guess is the author wants us to answer "parents" as the primary reflection of God in kids' lives, but more often it seems to be people outside the home, like teachers, neighbors folks at church or even pastors!

2. What is your natural response to "common grace"? Why do Christians in general have a hard time accepting that non Christians enjoy good things?

Like most of God's people, I've got Jonah and Peter streaks; however, long, long ago I learned to try talking to, having a conversation with anyone who turned me off in any way, and that's gone a long, long way toward making me far more understanding than otherwise I would've been: getting a clue as to what walking in their shoes might be about.

3. This is the day of salvation. What does that change for us? What perspectives, attitudes, and goals are affected as we seek to be vessels of God's grace?

Today, this day! That's Pauline, isn't it? What does it change? I need constantly to be aware of my being both dead and alive in Christ, constantly aware of my baptism – and, that also means daily repentance, as Luther wisely insisted.

4. If we are going to be the light of Christ in this world today, what is our calling according to Romans 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 6:2; and 2 Peter 3:9, 15?

Romans 2 includes verse 4: "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Hmmm . . . chapter 2 is from what's called the "prosecution" section of Romans! 2 Corinthians 6a: "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I'm going to [maybe] do a little eisegesis and say for God, every moment becomes a kairos one, an opportunity for "salvation," for greater wholeness and holiness – for becoming and being more like God. The verses from 2 Peter are about God's patience! So we need to become more patient with others, just as God is patient, and more patient with ourselves. I'll add more responsive to the reign of the HS in our lives and in the rest of the world (that means those others that Jonah and Peter would rather not have had included in God's grace filled reign). The church as the provisional demonstration of what God intends for humankind? The church????? That's us!!!!!

5. How does not showing mercy to others reveal that we are not leaning on God's mercy for our own salvation?

More than anything not being merciful or (horrors!) actually being unmerciful to others means I don't have a whole lot of awareness of my shortcomings nor much intention of repenting of them.

6. Who are your "enemies"? Is it more common for you to think of and pray for their salvation or their judgment?

I've gotten into the habit of praying for people who've offended me, and these past years have been an extremely hard row to hoe. For the most part, I find after I've prayed for them for a few days or weeks, their actions that have so displeased me almost never continue bothering me.

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