Wednesday, October 03, 2007
When I was much younger, I used to think of God as kind of a Sensei Kreese. You know. The karate instructor from the Karate Kid movies who is known for saying, “Mercy is for the weak. We do not train to be merciful here. A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”
Once I got to know God a little better, I started wondering if He was more like Miyagi Sensei. At the beginning of the second Karate Kid movie, Miyagi comes to the rescue of Johnny, the kid who Daniel defeats at the tournament. Johnny’s teacher, Sensei Kreese is upset that his student got second place instead of first and is taking it out on him. Miyagi knows that this is a bad man and that an injustice is being done. Instead of fighting him, he just moves out of the way when punches are thrown, and Sensei Kresse gets hurt. Once injured, Miyagi has the opportunity to ‘finish him,’ but instead opts to teach him a lesson about mercy.
Mercy in this case wasn’t deserved, just like when we, as fallen sinners, don’t deserve the mercy that God presents to us when we admit our wrongs. But there is a big difference here. God gave us all the opportunity to receive mercy when He sent His Son to die on our behalf. We either take advantage of this opportunity or we don't. The ball is now in our court. I don't know for sure what's going to happen on the other side of this life, but I think we're given two chances to make ourselves right with God. Our first opportunity to gain salvation is to be perfectly holy, to meet God's expectations. The second is to accept His Son's sacrifice as atonement for our imperfections. Since we are all fallen in our sinful nature and can not meet the expectations of God, we must accept His gift of grace while we are given the opportunity. Or else, I believe, it won't be offered again.
I, and many others, often have a hard time imagining that our all-loving, merciful God could send a sweet, old grandmother to hell because she never accepted Jesus as His atonement for her sins. But if God handed out mercy to everyone in eternity, regardless of whether they acknowledged what Jesus did for them or not, then mercy has been stripped of its value. If that happened, God's Law and Jesus' sacrifice would be a joke. Jesus would have suffered and died unnecessarily. Mercy is only valuable, desired, and appreciated when it is bestowed upon those who are willing to accept it. It means nothing in the hands of those who do not know God. It means everything to those who do understand the circumstances and the stakes.
The dictionary says that “'to be at the mercy of’ means ‘to be wholly in the power of.’” I really like the way this is phrased because I want to be completely God’s. In exchange for God’s grace and mercy, I feel compelled to show God my appreciation by asking Him to empower me to serve others. We have been pardoned, relieved, favored in order to serve others, always directing those who question the motivation behind our servitude to God as its source.
In Sensei Kreese's case, Miyaji gave him mercy without expectation. In our case, God does expect us to understand what we have been offered before it is given to us. For those of us who agree with God that we are fallen and cannot possibly make ourselves right before Him without the help of an outside source, His Son, we believe we will be shown mercy when our time before the throne of God comes. Do you have this confidence? Have you taken advantage of His free gift?
"Mercy is for the weak." Before God, we are all weak, and we all need mercy.