Mercy in Vast Supply

Civility is the art of living with others while causing the least friction possible. It means not taking offense at every little thing, but employing patience and allowing people to be themselves as much as possible.

By extension, we know that sane people aren’t constantly thinking about how they could improve the behavior and outcomes of someone else’s life. It’s one thing to take responsibility for the behavior of your own children, but it’s quite wrong to hold the rest of the world accountable to your detailed wishes. It’s downright crazy even to have such a vision in your head.

Good moral people enjoy simply watching the creativity of children at play. They only step in when the child clearly suffers from the effects of a false perception about reality. Good moral people don’t want anyone to struggle against reality, but they know that a light hand of guidance is the default starting point even with their own children. It’s just laziness that ignores a child until they get in the way, but it’s evil to seek total control of outcomes.

The reason we know these things is because it’s inherent in divine revelation. It’s written in our convictions if we care to notice. And it’s for sure an underlying theme of God’s revelation. The business in Romans 12:1-2 about “the perfect will of God” is not what it sounds like in Western ears. It’s not as if God has a perfect detailed plan; He’s a real Father to His children. He never sets out a detailed matrix of expectations, but is quite happy to watch us grow and come up with our own unique answers to a lot of little things. That’s how He designed us.

His relationship with those who love Him is a vivid and personal thing. There is no objective reality hard-coded into His Creation. His pattern for humanity to follow is organic, not a vast network of details. His revelation doesn’t point to specific conduct, but to the heart and to genuine compassion. His love is His law for humanity. It’s organic and alive and variable, yet not so variable that anything goes. The prohibitions against certain things are a matter of our design and the design of Creation itself.

And He knows that we are fallen, so He doesn’t judge us for having inappropriate desires. Our human appetites are built in as a way of prodding us to keep things working; every drive is there for a reason. But it’s how we go about meeting those appetites that can get us into trouble, or it can amuse God. He may not be that much like any human father you ever experienced, but He is our Father.

In other words, He’s not at all like the typical Western image of a deity. The English word “God” carries a lot of baggage that God doesn’t own. It’s quite a burden on English speakers to unlearn the crap that Western mythology has loaded upon our minds.

When you fail, God is hardly surprised. When you come before Him, what He’s looking for is whether you really care about what He thinks. The biggest struggle we have in penitence is the load of false guilt for things that don’t actually anger Him. We can hold a lot of debates about what makes Him feel disappointed in us; Western mythology is loaded with crap about what is or isn’t sin. His Word is pretty clear on a lot of things our Western society considers variable, while a lot of nonsense is promoted as a necessity.

But even then, those who are determined to please God can always find out what it takes, sooner or later. Obtaining His mercy and forgiveness is always possible for anyone who wants it. The answer is given only in your heart, and it will never completely make sense to your head.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
This entry was posted in sanity and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mercy in Vast Supply

  1. Iain says:

    “it will never completely make sense to your head.” Amen. God allows us our vanities for the purpose of guiding us to His Person. The rational method for seeking God is like being in a closed maze where every alley is blind and not realizing that the way out is up.


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