The Bare Soul - February 28, 2010
More Through Mercy

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "More Through Mercy" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on February 25, 2010.

More Through Mercy - February 25, 2010

Mark 10:48 - Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Blind Bartimaeus learned a life-changing lesson the day he cried out to Jesus for his sight. In the depth of his despair over his blindness he ironically found that it was essential to feign a loss of hearing toward Jesus' followers. He needed to disregard the sway of the crowd that kept telling him to mind his manners.  Social decorum' or first century Jewish etiquette was the last thing on Bartimaeus' mind as he shouted to be heard over the crowd. He knew that if he let this opportunity pass there might never be another. He could not concern himself about what those following Jesus might think of his persistence to gain the attention of Jesus. The scripture tells us that Jesus stopped and told His followers to ... call him here (Mark 10:49). The blind beggar does something next that is quite extraordinary. Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak, probably his only worldly possession, and leaping up he comes to Jesus (Mark 10:50). In the next two verses we share in the beautiful exchange between the Lord and this blind man. Christ first secures Bartimaeus' desire from his own lips. This created faith in his own heart as he heard his own desire vocalized. Then, the Great Healer spoke wellness to the man's eyes which immediately open upon Christ's declaration of healing. This is a most glorious example of a man desirous of a touch from the Lord and the mercy of a loving God to do so.

Oh, for more Blind Bartimaeus' in the church today who would not be silenced! Of equal need are those who would not seek to quiet the oppressed, but would encourage their deliverance by allowing them to come to the Lord. You might ask, how has the church hindered those seeking Christ to find Him? Jesus made an important distinction regarding "how" Bartimaeus was to come to Him. He told the crowd to "call him here". Jesus could have just as easily called the blind man Himself, but He desired that the crowd would call him. This is an important lesson for today's church in western Christendom. We may state that Christ can deliver men and women of any sin that would beset humankind, but do we really believe that, or more importantly, is that what we want? Blind beggars were a nuisance in ancient Palestine. They were dirty, often offensive in their "panhandling", and they were generally looked down on as those who "had it coming". As we recall from the disciples conversation with the Lord in John chapter 9, the disciples tried to ascertain what was the root cause for this man to be born blind from birth -- his sin or that of his parents (John 9:1-3). The Lord states "neither", but that God's glory might be demonstrated. Just as people's views and perceptions were skewed in Jesus' day regarding cause and effect regarding blindness, so today many in the church are skewed in a pharisaical way regarding sins that are reprehensible and sordid in origin. In the past 20 years or so, the western church has grown demonstrably in its ability to embrace the alcoholic and the drug addict. During a good part of the 20th century, these were sins of the flesh that many could not confess because of social stigma. Even more so today, those in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are finding that anonymity is not as essential as it was when the 12 Step Program began in the 1930s. Today, many notable figures in the public sphere are finding strength by confessing their weakness. However, what of the dark, demonic sins that often find fertile soil in these and other addictions? Are we as a church ready to embrace these and "call them" to our Savior?

For the western church to move in more of the grace that the Lord is so desirous to pour out, we must learn to love ALL as He loves them. This means all manner of "untouchables" that would seek freedom from their spiritual blindness. The church might find more forgiveness for those that would escape a life of homosexuality or pornography or prostitution. These are immoral sins that usually involve only "willing" participants that share in this sordid behavior. However, many would believe that those who would prey upon children, in both sexual and murdererous fashion, would have no forgiveness in God's plan of salvation because they have preyed upon the innocent. While accounts of these horrendous behaviors might sicken on a daily basis in our 24/7 news cycle, our judgment on these can often be premature to that of our Father's in Heaven. He desires that NONE would perish but that ALL would find salvation in Him (II Peter 3:9). Beloved, have we opened wide our hearts to love all as He commanded us? Or, are we like those following Jesus telling those who are reprehensible by our standard that Jesus wants nothing to do with them. I believe in my heart that once the Church, the true Body of Christ, comes to a place of willingness to love those who are the despised of this world, that we will see a revival of His love break forth that is unparalleled since the beginning of times. We will see those very much like Blind Bartimaeus in his day, throw off all protection or anything that they have hidden with a "cloak" -- feelings and apprehensions of shame and distrust. These will be cast to the wind IF the Church of Jesus Christ will lay aside the heart of what they believe a Christian should be and begin to embrace the love that God will show them. They only have to be willing to "call these" that are so desirous to come. They just need to know that a Savior came for them also, to break them free from any and all sins that would seek to master them.

You might say, "I can't love people like that! There is no way that I could accept an ex-stripper, or a delivered alcoholic, or an ex-producer of pornographic movies, let alone a "supposed" child molester who says he or she now knows Jesus! I just can't!" That is the first step, Beloved. When we tell God we can't, then it allows Him to begin to move upon our hearts to tell us "we can". Personally, my fleshly heart that seeks to defy Jesus' command to love all rebels at the thought! (Somehow, I might delude myself that as a recovering alcoholic my sin is not worse than some.) However, where sin abounds grace does abound all the more (Romans 5:20). Christ is not only ready to give grace to all who would but come to Him, but He is also ready to pour out MORE of His grace and mercy on a parched and dry church. In order to know the love of Christ, we must walk in the love of Christ. This means loving all, regardless of where they might be in our perceived judgments. Thank God for those who are reaching out to those who are the "untouchables" of this world -- to those calling to these to come to the Master to receive their proverbial "sight" and to no longer walk in darkness. However, we must give our whole collective heart for this type of transformation to occur, where God can fill up the church with more grace and mercy than we ever believed possible. Are we willing to say that we have never loved in this manner but we desire to? It will only happen if we first "see" and then ask for His heart, so that we can truly lead those to the Light who will not find it in any other way. Lord, make us MORE to those we would despise in our own flesh by giving us MORE of Your heart!

Father, give us Your heart to love the unlovable, to cherish those whom the world despises. Help us to see the great treasure in the sordid of this world whom Your Son bled and died for. Lord, we cannot do this without your love. Give us Your heart. Give us MORE mercy and grace that we might give it away. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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