Sunday, January 18, 2009


Matthew 12:1, 2 Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

Jesus responded by citing the account of David and his companions eating the consecrated bread. He pointed out that the priests in the temple work on the Sabbath. Then he said the convicting words, If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent.

There is no need to go into great detail describing how the Pharisees were legalists who thought more about keeping every jot and tittle of the law. It is obvious that they believed they could gain the good graces of their God by doing good works. And it is also clear that they thought they were in a position to judge the activities of everyone else around them.

But the thing that is crushingly weighty is what Jesus said to them. The thing that condemned them was that they did not realize the meaning of the scriptures that said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” The law of God is fulfilled by loving God and loving one’s neighbor. The Pharisees did not love God. They did not keep the law out of love but out of a desire to earn their righteousness. They did not love their neighbors. They consistently pointed out every failure of their neighbors in an effort to magnify their own righteousness. God did not need their sacrifices. He wanted them to show mercy.

What is our church going to be like? What will New Hope Community Church be? Will it be made up of people who show mercy to those around us? Or will it be a place that legalistically keeps the Sabbath and goes through the motions of doing church? I think there is something important for us here. God wants us to show mercy. If we insist on merely having church every Sunday and expect people to respond to our invitations to come and do church with us, we won’t be showing mercy and we won’t be doing what God has called us to do. We need to get out of the building and work to show mercy, God’s mercy, to the people of our community!

Does that mean we should no longer have worship on Sundays? No, not at all. But if we want people to come and hear the gospel message and worship God with us I suspect we will first have to go to them and show mercy. It would be very wise for us to find out what mercy might look like to our neighbors!


At 5:52 AM, Blogger jazzycat said...

Good message. Romans 7:6 describes our service through the New Covenant. By serving in the new way of the Spirit, your church should be a blessing to the community by showing mercy. I believe this will in turn bring God's blessing on your Church


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