Tag Archives: prayer

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Hosea 6:6, ESV

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Mercy, not sacrifice. Steadfast love, not burnt offerings. An act of the heart not just an act of obedience.

This verse is breaking my heart this morning, echoed by Christ in Matthew 9:13

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

The whole Church, the Body of Christ needs to ask – what are we giving, mercy or sacrifice? Where is our heart? What is our concern – showing love or saving our own skins? What is the purpose behind our actions, our legalism, our quest for purity, our understanding of forgiveness?

We have been forgiven, cleansed, made new, all by the work of Christ with no effort on our parts beyond acknowledging when the Spirit opened our eyes to see it. So what do we do with that? We offer sacrifice – time and prayers and money and ego – all in hopes someone will see and acknowledge and validate us, that our mansion in heaven might be a little bigger, a bit better furnished. Where do we show mercy? Where do we acknowledge that it is by grace we are saved – us and everyone around us.

Mercy. Not sacrifice. Grace, forgiveness, following the example of Christ to seek out the sinners and what – yell at them about how evil they are? Tell them they’re destined to an eternity of torment? No, that’s not how Christ treated the sinner. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness. Christians should be active in the work of restoration – renewal and healing and the journey toward wholeness.

Mercy, not sacrifice. God give me strength.

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Sometimes it feels like I don’t know what I’m doing

Yesterday I prayed with my daughter. I’m almost ashamed that such a simple thing is worth reflecting and writing on, but it is. Praying with my daughter is a rare thing. Praying for her or around her is normal. We talk about prayer together. Still there seemed to be some sort of disconnect, like going from “oh I love dancing” to “will you dance with me”.

I don’t know how to do this “raising kids in a Christian home” thing. I have enough trouble with the “raising kids part” and then the “Christian home” side…well, often it feels like I’m having to make things up as I go and hope for the best. We don’t do things the way my husband was raised (as much as he is a fantastic person and I completely adore my inlaws, it just doesn’t work for us), and things from my childhood are no help (in my family the closest we got to spiritual teachings was watching Jesus Christ Superstar). I watch the people around me but they all seem so natural at it, asking questions makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Like I should know how to do this. Like it should come naturally.

It doesn’t really. There’s so many things I want for my kids and I’m just not sure how to do it all. I want them to have a deep longing for a connection with the Divine, but I also want them to understand and respect other faith cultures. I want them to be sure of their place in the world but I don’t want them to forget there are others who need. I want them to have strength and courage and be a voice for the voiceless but I don’t want them to miss the point and feel superior to the people around them. I want them to know God and experience his love and grace, but I want them to have the opportunity to seek him out on their own terms.

So they come to church with us. They learn all the things they learn in their program (which I’m assuming is good quality stuff since husband and other people I love and respect are running things). They hear husband and I talk and discuss. They see me involved and participate with us. I don’t hide my faith, but at the same time it’s very much my faith and the problem comes with trying to share that with them.

So today was a big step. When the girl was frustrated and teary eyed, when I was replaying the scolding I’d given in my head, when I remembered that there is more to being good than acting good, I asked her if I could pray with her. Because she is my girl and keeps me on my toes and challenges me more than she’ll ever know, her response was “why?”

Why? 

Because you’re special and amazing and I love you. Because you’ve had a rough day. Because sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try you can’t get it right. Because we need to remember we’re not in this alone. Because I know you can get past this. Because God loves you even more than I do. Because I get it wrong too and need to remember it’s not all up to me. Because we both need all the love we can get. Because God is good and wants good for us.

I don’t always do it right – as a parent or as a believer or as an example or any of the other things I am in the run of the day, but in that moment, by the grace of God, I think I did.