Mercy is not getting what we do deserve; grace is getting what we don't deserve. Robert Gelinas rightly says mercy carves the way for grace. Mercy exposes our need, brokenness and desperation. The truth is, I'd rather focus on grace than mercy. But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, grace without mercy is cheap. Is it possible to experience the heights of God's grace without first experiencing the depths of God's mercy? Mercy rescues. The extravagant love of God sets us free through His endless mercy.
Mercy is more than just an aspect of the gospel (good news as it is in a merciless world). Mercy is at the essence of the gospel because it is the essence of God's nature. Gelinas points out that the closer we get to the presence of God, the more we find ourselves compelled to pray: Lord have mercy. This is not primarily because we are overwhelmed by our sin, but because we are overwhelmed by the awesome presence and love of God. It is no accident that the epicenter of God's presence in the ancient temple, the Ark of the Covenant in the center of the Holy of Holies, was known as the Mercy Seat.
Perhaps more surprising than the frequency of the requests for mercy in the Bible is the revelation of who it is that asks for it. Even more shocking, who is the first to ask for mercy from Jesus in the Gospels? I'll leave you in suspense to discover the answer from Robert, but suffice it to say, the door is thrown wide open for you and me to get in line. How can we not?
The mercy of God changes and forms us. Robert makes the wonderful point that "receiving mercy transforms us into dispensers of mercy" (pg. 142). Mercy boldly intersects the pain, brokenness, tragedies, sin, injustices, demons, and inadequacies of our lives; it also boldly confronts these realities in the world through those infected by mercy (James 2:13). How different would our relationships and world be if a contagion of mercy was unleashed through God's infected people? Mercy becomes a part of us as integral as the air we breathe and the beat of our own heart. Gelinas masterfully shows us how.
Read Mercy Prayer with expectation and caution. The well-supported Biblical truths of God's mercy and the practice of this simple prayer will change your life. Gelinas' writing is accessible, real, honest and practical while leading the reader deeper into the implications of God's mercy with every turn of the page. Far more than learning about God's mercy or the prayer Kyrie eleison, you will discover the endless mercy of God for you and the liberating prayer that becomes a way of life.
I am so glad for the opportunity to give away a free copy of Mercy Prayer through the generosity of Thomas Nelson Publishers. To enter, simply include: 1. your name (first name is OK) and 2. a preferred way to contact you (e.g. email address, Twitter handle, Facebook address, phone number) in the comment section to this blog post below. Contact information will only be used for the purpose to notify the winner and to get the shipping address for where to have the book shipped. Enter by Sunday, July 14th.
Kyrie eleison...Lord, have mercy.