Friday, September 3, 2010

The Theology of a Merciful Promise

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said... ‘They will be my people,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ‘On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who don’t’.”

~Malachi 3:16a, 17-18 (NLT).

This is a call to live for God if ever there was one. And it comes with a promise. It is also an invocation to the church; to gather as a sheepfold unto the actual Presence of God, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20 [NIV]). Most significantly of all it heralds the Day of Judgment and two distinctly different outcomes.

Blessed Are Those Who Choose to Serve

God is blasphemed earlier in Malachi 3:14, with the arrogant and slack attitudes of those who see as “futile” the purposes in serving God.

Blessed are those who serve with a heart to serve, for they’ll be God’s on that Day of Judgment; not only that, they’re blessed now, as they willingly and gleefully live for God, rejecting point blank the hellish voice that says, “Do your own thing.”

Anyone who’s genuinely tried selfless service with a motive that is also selfless knows the indelible blessing that comes as a natural consequence. And such ‘muscle memory’ is known by serving these ways.

Blessed Are Those Who Co-Mingle in Harmony

This is the Church. It is any group of people, for that matter, that meet for God’s purposes and maintain a sense of love-foreboding because of God and their mutual love.

This is the self-sustaining prophesy of true community—where the sum is far greater than the one, and it’s a value shared by all. In our world and culture we might not be able to truly draw upon the vast benefits of community as did the early church, but we can be members of churches and other altruistic institutions, particularly charitable ones.

“Community” is still available to us.

And as we move about in community we quickly find that qualities such as relational compromise, generosity, patience and grace are formidable traits that beckon their way into our hearts; that or we begin to sink.

Putting Two Blessed Constructs Together

To serve, willingly and enthusiastically, and to do this within the community context... to get engaged in our world... that is the blessing of the Lord.

We will know blessing in this life, and in the one to come, and certainly at Judgment.

It is thus how we will know the most merciful promise of God.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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