How is the Christian life lived? Paul appeals, challenges us. The Christian life is lived “by the mercies of God” or “in view of God’s mercy.” Both translations make the point. The Christian life isn’t a next step or a separate category. The Christian life is the expression of Christian faith. It flows from Christian faith. It is the mercies of God at work. It is Christ for us now through us for others.
We are declared righteousness in Christ. We have been buried with him in Baptism. We have been crucified and raise with Him. His death is the death of our sin. His resurrection is our justification. This isn’t a starting point. This is every single day. This is the Christian life. And more than saving us, Christ has now made us new. Even more than making us new, He not only leads us to worship, but He makes our whole lives worship. Our whole life is now imbued with Christ. We eat and drink to His glory. We breathe in worship. Our vocations are daily liturgies of praise. We are conformed to His image, in which we were created and are being renewed. We are transformed by the renewal of our minds. We are transformed from the old and dying, set apart, proclaimed holy, used as His vessels.
What does this look like? Paul describes it in what follows. It’s neighbor-focused and grace-filled. It is mercied love that then loves in mercy. Our life is a mirror of His life because our life is His life. We live out the grace given to us, using His gifts to us for others, in worship.
Think of the parable of the unforgiving servant. Forgiven a debt he went out and refused to forgive others the debts owed him. We perhaps get angry when we hear that parable. Doesn’t the man get the inconsistency? Doesn’t he understand how his response to the gift of forgiveness doesn’t fit with the forgiveness he’d received? We are that servant, though. And so the Lord’s Prayer reminds us of the centrality of forgiveness and the inconsistency of a life that springs from and lives by forgiveness but then fails to reflect it.
Live by the mercies of God. Live in view of it. Life comes only through His mercy and He is our life. You need not travel far or come up with extravagant works to worship this One who has shown you mercy. He calls you to proclaim, reflect, and be His mercy to others, and He puts plenty of others right around you, smack dab in front of you. He has made your lives worship, even in the most mundane, turning your stations in life into vocations. This life doesn’t come natural to us as fallen sinners, but it does flow naturally from our new life in Him. It’s baptismal. And it’s His gift, just like our salvation.
Lord, your mercies are new every morning. Help us to live in these mercies and to be your mercy for our neighbors. Keep your cross ever in our mirror that, remembering your mercy, we may press on with it. Help us, in others, to see you, and in you lead us always to see mercy.
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