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Communion Meditations (2013)

Fair Exchange

Originally scheduled for May 19

It sometimes comes as a surprise to modern Christians that the word “mercy” encompasses the idea of putting up with someone.

Let me give you an example. Most of us have known at one time or another someone who is the absolute epitome of an uncouth clod. That’s the kind of person whose manners, if they exist at all, are woefully deficient for their position in life. You know, of course, that society as a whole is not going to give you the slightest bit of help in reforming such a person. We are enamored with the concept that each of us should “do your own thing.” So what your grandmother would’ve referred to as rude and crude now seems to be just personal style.

One thing about it though: it is a chance to show mercy. And as the good Lord teaches us, blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

Have you ever ask yourself whether or not that’s a fair exchange? We know that God is merciful to the merciful. It’s often presented to us as something which is a matter of fairness; if I forgive you, then it’s only fair that you should forgive me. Sometimes this idea creeps into our relationship with God. I’m a very forgiving person; it’s only fair that God should forgive me. Get that idea out of your mind. It is not a fair exchange of mercy. What do I give up? I give man’s mercy, flawed and sinful as it might be. God, in his infinite love, gives me his mercy, pure and sinless.

You can see the difference. Forgiveness between two sinners is, sometimes, a matter of fairness. Sometimes it reaches the point that you can even laugh about it. But man’s forgiveness is limited; just like man’s patience. God’s forgiveness is not limited. He made that point to us at the cross. Look at it this way: Christ, on the cross, forgave those who are executing him. Some of those very same people who were sneering at him and mocking him became members of the First Christian Church of Jerusalem about 50 days later. Think about it; it’s tough for us to forgive our friends and loved ones. He demonstrated his forgiveness to those who were sneering at him and executing him.

That’s one of the reasons that he gave us the Lord’s Supper. He wanted us to remember the example of mercy that he gave us at the cross. He did not give us an example of a fair exchange of forgiveness. He gave us the highest example of God’s unconditional love for his children. As you partake this morning, remember the price that was paid to put that unconditional love into effect. His body, his blood were sacrificed for you. Therefore, examine yourself and take the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner. It is not a fair exchange — but then, love never is.

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