NO LONGER DISPOSABLE
For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy….Romans 11:30
Mercy is cheap if I perceive it as something I barely need. Take a hardened criminal, he needs mercy, right? I only need a little in comparison. This is the deception in the church as we can easily think we’re different from other people, other nations, other cultures. When I watch the news and see bands of gang members in the back of pickup trucks in Sudan, wielding weapons and machetes, I have no trouble seeing them as needing vast amounts of mercy. But am I like them? Do I need the same amount of mercy?
Mercy is only of infinite value when it’s placed against the backdrop of sin and hopelessness. Until I see myself as utterly lost and condemned, then what Jesus did in giving His life for me will be a story that causes me to yawn in boredom. Who will feel the most ecstatic over being forgiven? The one who knows how deeply he has sinned and offended God. Who will embrace salvation with his whole heart? The one who has despaired of being justly condemned with no way out. The Pharisees made no admission of being lost. Therefore, Christ Jesus was of no value to them.
I’m not one who likes ‘forwards’ in emails. Rarely do I even read them. However, this was sent recently. The source is unknown. The story paints a moving picture of mercy that even our children can understand. I’m asking God to take the precious gift of mercy home to my heart in a more profound way today.
There once was a man named George Thomas, a pastor in a small Texas town. One Sunday morning he came to the Church building carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, the pastor began to speak ~
“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.
I stopped the lad and asked, “What do you have there, son?
“Just some old birds,” came the reply.
“What are you going to do with them?” I asked.
“Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered. “I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”
“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”
“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.
The pastor was silent for a moment. “How much do you want for those birds, son?”
“Huh?! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister. They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing. They ain’t even pretty!”
“How much?” the pastor asked again.
The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, “$10?”
The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten-dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty birdcage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:
One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. “Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. I set a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist and I got them all!”
“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.
Satan replied, “Oh, I’m going to have fun! I’m going to teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to embrace perverse things that will destroy them in the end. I’m going to teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really going to have fun!”
“And what will you do when you are done with them?” Jesus asked.
“Oh, I’ll kill them,” Satan glared proudly.
“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.
“Oh, you don’t want those people. They aren’t any good to you. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you. They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don’t want those people!!”
“How much? He asked again.
Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your blood, tears and your life.”
Jesus said, “Done!” Then He paid the price.
The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.