Psalm 26:1-8 & Romans 12:9-21
Our Scripture reading for this Sunday brings before us the kind of culture that flows when we take the view through the lens of God’s mercy. This sermon’s focus is on the type of culture we are to cultivate as those who have received the mercy of God in Christ. We are to cultivate love to the point where we don’t take revenge, even on our enemies! The Scripture says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath…” Love that is sincere leaves room for God’s wrath.
This shouldn’t be construed as passivity. Love remains active and preemptive! The Bibles calls us to take positive action. Instead of evil for evil, we overcome evil with good. Instead of starving your enemy, love feeds them. Instead of letting your enemy die of thirst, love gives them something to drink. What enables us do this? Only when you view through the lens of God’s mercy. God’s mercy relieves us from the wrath of God. When the Psalmist said: “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” (Psalm 26:2) Where does he get the confidence to pray such a prayer? For who can withstand the gaze of a Holy God! The only way one can gain this kind of confidence is to do what the Psalmist did; “for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalm 26:3) He keeps the love of God before him. His confidence is in God’s love for him, and not in his ability to please God. God’s love relieves the pressure of self-righteousness. This is the good news of the gospel. And the relief is felt more and more when you view through the lens of God’s mercy in the Sacrament. In the Sacrament of the Lord’s Table we remember that when we were enemies of God, Jesus gave us something to eat and something to drink. He gave us his body and his blood. Jesus said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (John 6:55) In his body and through the shedding of his blood, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for us and brought to us the mercy of God. Now in the Lord’s Supper, we are fed, our thirst quenched, and the wrath of God is satisfied.
The vindication that we need is in Christ. The sincerity of our love is rooted in Christ. The altar in which we wash our hands in innocence (Psalm 26:6) is the Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving! We leave room for the wrath of God every time we come to the Table of our Lord.