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Introduction

As an introvert my best stuff is rarely on the top, out in front. It sometimes takes a while before something good emerges from what I call “the clothes dryer” in my mind. My best stuff on Julie Clawson’s post, Terrified of Mercy may still be turning “in there” but here is what came out this week. The following is a brief expansion on a comment I left today on her post:

What gets me about this post as I come back to it a third time are the terrors of immediacy and ministry.

The Terror of Mercy and Immediacy

Immediacy is terrifying because it is jarring, suprizing and not at all safe. Jesus proclaims, “Change your whole outlook/worldview/affect because the kingdom of God is close enough to bite you (or bless you)!”

That is scary. We know how to look forward to God’s mercy. We do not so much know how to deal with it in our faces.

Think of Martha of Bethany in John 11. She can imagine and deal with a savior who will raise her brother on the last day but not with one who can and will do so immediately, that very minute.

The Terror of Mercy and Ministry.

In John 21, on the beach, over breakfast, Jesus implicitly forgives Peter three times for his three denials and immediately gives him ministry. Forgiveness always leads to marching orders, to living in and living out that mercy in life.

What could be more terrifying than that? Easier to be paralyzed and never able to make it into the pool first (for thirty years!) than to be healed and to have to become a healer yourself.

Ours is the world in which being a victim means “being in the right” …more or less helpless but in the right. How terrifying it is to become whole, mercifully whole and free and thus able to take on responsibility for ministry for others? The gospel in which the world is getting worse and worse and there is nothing we can do but wait for Jesus to act is so much easier than the one in which he has already acted, freed us and given us both work to do and everything we need to be able to do that work. Given that every Christian has gifts and a life which is work, service, ministry and service, all rolled up into one, I find that terrifying enough to compel me to flee with frightened and faltering footsteps to Jesus for help!

Yup. I’ll bet that was the idea all along…

Julie got me thinking again! Anyone have anything to add?

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