Jesus begins his most famous teaching, The Sermon on the Mount, with the Beatitudes, meaning blessing. So over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing seven stories of God’s blessing in our lives.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
There were just a few of us – sat in the largest government allowed church, in the capital city of a country where Christians experience the gravest persecution – who really knew what was going on.
It was the minister’s last Sunday as pastor of that church.
Unbeknown to his congregation, government authorities had become suspicious of his ‘underground church’ activities and they had told him that they were moving him to a desk job. He was no longer allowed to lead a church and he had been forbidden from telling his congregation that he had been forced to leave them.
In front of the whole church he knelt down. With tears running down his face he asked his congregation to forgive him if he had ever hurt anyone or done anything to offend.
He then stood up and preached pure grace.
He spoke of how God’s timing was always right and good. He reminded us all of the importance of using the time we each had, well. He invited us to determine to serve God wholeheartedly as long as we were in the world. Living for him, was all that mattered.
Few gathered that day would have known the weight of threat or the story of injustice that he and his family were holding. Just that week I knew, that he and his wife had been threatened with arrest. But there was no animosity or bitterness within him, instead, forgiveness and love. That Sunday felt like I was standing on ‘holy ground’. The Kingdom of God felt very real and near as this man who was losing everything had no desire to get even, but rather to trust in God’s mercy as he mirrored it to the world.
As he stood in front of us all (and probably before government officials who were there to make sure that he obeyed their instructions) declaring that no matter what, he would live for Jesus as long as he was in the world and that his life would be a song of worship to him.
Mercy has such a gentle, kind and striking face. Blessed are the merciful and blessed are we who witness and learn from their lives.