Rev. Robert Shaner
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. (1 Peter 3:8, 13-15)
Acts of Mercy — doing what is right!
So, what does the Lord require of you/me? Micah (6:8) answers, in part, “do mercy.” St. Peter (3:13-14) simply states, “do what is good…what is right…do not be intimidated…sanctify Christ as Lord.” So it is, scripture reminding us that expected and heroic behavior is found in simple acts of mercy: doing good (St. Peter), welcoming the stranger (Matthew 25:44), tending the sick, giving a cup of water, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, befriending the refugee, orphan, widow, the lonely—basically “doing unto others as you would have them do to you!” (Matthew 7:12) In today’s devotional St. Peter writes that the faithful are to have “unity of spirit” (to be clear of who we are and what we are about) together with a tender heart and humble mind…to have sympathy, to feel for, be with and love the other. We are admonished to give “an account of the hope that is in us,” i.e., “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto God’s self and entrusting to us this ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) We are agents of reconciliation in solidarity “with” our neighbor, doing good, what is right, rendering simple acts of mercy without fear or intimidation—all of which is the godly thing to do!
As people of God, marked (branded as it were) with the cross of Christ, we become cross-bearers: identifying with the works of Christ, modeling our Lord’s behavior with all people, letting the light shine through us to God’s glory, becoming what Luther said was the Christian’s behavior—to be “little Christs” in the world. Belonging to God, we bear witness to his way, which is our calling (our duty.) Our faithful behavior will attest to how we live out our belief.
Doing simple acts of mercy may often feel as if one were simply placing a band-aid on the symptom and thus not treating the causative factor. Yes, but we also have a corporate witness, our congregation and the church. Together as the church or with other kindred spirits we are enabled and empowered to be “little Christs” speaking and acting with greater voice addressing (fixing) the systemic (root) causes of so much suffering, pain, and injustice surrounding us.
Taize Prayer— repeat several times:
Take, oh, take me as I am. Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart, and live in me.