Throughout His life, Jesus reached to people who were rejected by others. He loved all people, but especially those who were despised, scorned, and excluded. However, His practice of dining with known evildoers offended the Pharisees, and they confronted Jesus' disciples with this question: "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11). When Jesus heard the question, He answered,
"It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ¯I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:12-13).
Jesus told the Pharisees to "go and learn" what God meant when He said, "I desire compassion [mercy], and not sacrifice." A religion without love is an abomination to God. The church needs to learn: God desires love and compassion, not merely an adherence to ritual and sacrifice.
A House of Prayer
True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn but to cover. All nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, intercessors cry to God for mercy. Thus, Christlike prayer brings redemption out of disaster.
You see, the church is created not to fulfill God's wrath but to complete His mercy. Thus He calls us to be a "house of prayer for all¯nations." Consider passionately this phrase: "prayer for." Jesus taught His disciples to "pray for" those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt. 5:44). When Job "prayed for his friends," God fully restored him (Job 42:10). We are to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), and "pray for" each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged "that entreaties and prayers¯be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (vv. 1-2).
Yet the disciples were emerging from the Old Testament dispensation. So when they actually sought to call fire upon their enemies, as appropriate as this seemed to them, Jesus corrected them. He said He did not come to destroy His enemies, but "to save them" (Luke 9:56).
"But," you argue, "God needs to judge sinners for what they are doing." That may be so. Perhaps the world needs a good dose of the wrath of God to wake it up. However, only One person in Heaven and Earth is worthy to initiate God's wrath: the Lamb who was slain, who stands in intercession before God's throne (Rev. 5:6-14).
Jesus is the Lamb, the sacrifice for sin. Because He paid the highest price for redemption, we can be confident that He will not release divine fury until He fully exhausts divine mercy. I do not mean to imply that the world will continue on without reproof or difficulties. No, the Lord will use disasters and financial instability to draw men to Himself. And even then, when His judgments finally come, they will be guided by His mercy, giving time for sinners to repent.
As for us, until Christ breaks the seals that lead to wrath, we must stand in intercession before God as ambassadors of the Lamb. We are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ's mercy. There is a difference between whitewashing sin and bloodwashing it.
The reality that compels God's heart, which is an underlying principle of our own redemption, is this: "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). To live a life of mercy corresponds perfectly with God's heart. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer's image.
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The preceding teaching was adapted from a chapter in Pastor Frangipane's book, The Power of One Christlike Life. This book is currently on sale and can be ordered from Arrow Publications at www.arrowbookstore.com.