Friday, September 10, 2010

Mercy Restricted


The parables in Luke 15 of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and especially the lost son are so vivid that I don't always pay attention to the two verses that introduce them. The religious leaders are grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." They object to Jesus' indiscriminate table fellowship. These parables of Jesus insist that God's mercy breaks through all human restrictions about how God should act toward sinners. Everyone is precious. No one is outside of God's gracious love. That reality fills everyone in the stories with joy, a joy that comes from knowing that we are loved no matter what. How can I be a faithful follower of Jesus and refuse certain people table fellowship? The joy that I experience in God's mercy toward me enables me to welcome sinners and eat with them.
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