Mercy and Faithfulness

by John Fischer

Faithfulness is the one ongoing quality God asks of us. He is willing to justify us; He is willing to grant us mercy instead of the condemnation we deserve, but he does ask for a life of faithfulness.

Faithfulness is in contrast to perfection. Being faithful is a far cry from being perfect. Faithfulness means being authentic, devoted, consistent, loyal. An alcoholic who regularly shows up at A.A. meetings is faithful. She may slip and fall, but she is faithful to get up again. She may lie to her supervisor, but she is faithful to tell the truth when confronted. Faithfulness allows for failure; perfection does not.

When God calls for perfection, it is assumed that I cannot perform it. It’s the demand for perfection that keeps me relying on God’s mercy and grace. But the call to faithfulness is a call I can answer. Faithful to follow, faithful to confess, faithful to obey, faithful to repent, faithful to believe, faithful to pray and seek God – all these are the requirements of faithfulness. All of them are doable and are, in fact, my responsibility and my joy, having been the unexpected recipient of so great a mercy.

The Pharisees could have had it all if they would have been willing to admit their hypocrisy and join the rest of the human race on their knees before a merciful Lord. “God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” cried the publican in the parable of Jesus (Luke 18:13). Imagine if you will, a Pharisee in his long robe, his phylacteries, and his ornate turban, down on his knees next to the tax collector in tears of repentance and joy. Imagine these two embracing, both overwhelmed at the mercy of God in hearing and answering the same prayer. There you have a true picture of the kingdom of God. It’s hard to imagine the Pharisee standing up after such an experience and judging anyone.

And following such strange and unexpected union would be two unlikely followers of Christ, getting up off their knees and encouraging each other to be faithful. Shouldn’t we want to be faithful after all He’s done for us?

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