Right now I'm reading Bible Gateway's devotional featuring Dietrich Bonhoffer's meditations.
Today's hit home.
They seek out all those who have fallen into sin and guilt. No need is too great, no sin too dreadful for mercy to reach. The merciful give their own honor to those who have fallen into shame and take that shame unto themselves. They may be found in the company of tax collectors and sinners and willingly bear the shame of their fellowship. Disciples give away anyone's greatest possession, their own dignity and honor, and show mercy. They know only one dignity and honor, the mercy of their Lord, which is their only source of life.
Most of the time when I am merciful it is something that I think enhances my dignity. What I mean is lots of times I am doing some "great service" at least in my book. Missions trips, service projects, even my job in an inner city youth center. All of these things that when I do them make me look good.
However, there are a couple of experiences lately where I have understood what Bonhoeffer is getting at.
A while back I was at an event at Gabe's school talking to the parents of his friends. Gabe's friends are the good kids, with great families that all look and feel like they have it together. They are like us. That's where we belong. Life was as it was supposed to be.
Then I saw a friend of ours whose life is a mess. I hadn't seen them in a while and they looked bad. But when I saw this person I left my group of high status people and walked over to this individual to catch up and talk. But, as I did it I felt my association with her making me dirty in the sight of my peers. There was a sense of loss, even a slight anger with this person for "doing this to me" at this time.
All of this to say that it's easy to be friendly to people in the right circumstances, but what about when I have to pay a price? And that brings us back to Jesus, the one who paid it all. The one who bore all our shame to give us dignity. The one who came to hang out with losers like you and me. That's the person God wants us to be. And the price to be like him really is costly.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." Matthew 5:7
- Why is "renunciation of their own dignity" necessary if disciples are to be truly merciful?
- How might a church renounce its own dignity in order to be merciful?
- How is Jesus our model for renouncing dignity in order to be merciful?
- Is there anyone beneath a disciples' mercy? Why, or why not?