By Brother Guy Ames

Jesus’ amazing Sermon on the Mount sets the picture of God’s New Kingdom – not like the natural ways we try to live, rather a paradox.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right all speak to a way of life that seems so counter intuitive.  Who wants to tell their children to seek ways to let others have their way with them?  But this is the new model that Jesus sets for us – we’re to live differently than what seems so natural.

I remember an early public relations campaign tempting us with various products using language like, “I’m number one,” or “You deserve it.”  These slogans really speak to the heart of contemporary thinking that the most important thing is to always look after myself, but Jesus teaches something totally different. He calls us to put God first and to live out a life that seeks to follow Jesus’ way of life. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” is the consistent theme of Jesus’ life and ministry.  Even in the Lord’s Prayer, we hear the challenging call to “forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  Well, when we put it this way this does seem to be a bit extreme, doesn’t it?  What about those people who have so severely offended us, wounded our loved ones or even taken that which is most precious, don’t these people deserve our disdain?  More and more in our contemporary society people are encouraged to strike out at those who offend us.  Social media has made it so much easier to call people names, censure their voices, and even to seek their harm, all in the name of getting even or standing up for myself or others.  As more and more voices are seeking to drown out the Christian Gospel or to silence Christian belief it seems that the natural approach should be to become as aggressive as our detractors, doesn’t it?

What then is mercy? Mercy is what God did in Jesus.  He got inside humanity’s skin in a literal sense.  God, in Jesus, came as a man, seeing things the way we see life, feeling what we feel.  God became human to know us completely.  God now invites us to be like Jesus. 

This is what Paul wrote about to the Philippian Church:

Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:1-8)


After all, the entirety of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death calls out to us that God has been merciful to us! Will we extend that same grace toward others?  On another occasion, Jesus reminded the religious leaders that Scripture teaches that “it is better to be merciful than to offer sacrifice.”  This is God’s very nature and in his love for us has offered, not what we deserve but what true love demands – mercy.


The early Christian community grew rapidly in large part because of the outlandish acts of mercy and love Christians bestowed on others.  During early pandemics when Roman elites fled cities and dying family members to save their lives, Christians picked up the sick and dying, bringing them into their own homes and tending to them, even at the cost of their own lives.  Today in many parts of the world Christians face, not merely criticism, but often the loss of life.  One pastor’s family in Central Africa found their home invaded by terrorists who took the life of their beloved father and husband.  The younger sons of this pastor, upon finding the body of their father made up their minds for revenge.  They dedicated themselves to step into their father’s shoes, entered Bible School and took up the calling to serve Christ and the Church.


Living lives of mercy is anything but easy and often seems unfair, but for those who follow Jesus, who declare that “Jesus is Lord” learn to live our lives setting self aside, becoming obedient, even to the cross, that we might give mercy as we have received God’s mercy.  Knowing Christ means not only receiving God’s saving grace but invites us into Christ’s Kingdom living. We can become more and more like Jesus, and in those moments when anger, unforgiveness, resentment, and pain rise up to demand justice, we begin to ask, “what would Jesus do?”