"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance." - Jude 1:2
This is from Jon Birch, and is an excellent example of one place a bit of extravagance may be needed...
There's some excellent discussion going on about this over at ASBO Jesus. Check it out here.
There are two things I thought of at once when I saw this the other day. First and immediately, I thought of my friend Linda over at faintnot's frenzy and her weekly updates on the Friday Church in the park that she is part of. Then I wondered, "are these the only ones?"
Are these the only people who are in need of God's extravagant gifts of mercy and grace? What is it that makes someone "one of the least of these"? What does it feel like to read those words in the Word when you are one of the least of these? Does anyone in that position know they're there? What about all those people with thousands of dollars in credit card debt sitting in their fabulous houses with incredibly broken hearts and broken marriages? I think I might argue that "the least of these" can be all of us at times, and this is why:
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." - Isaiah 53:6
"...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." - Romans 3:23
I went to BibleGateway this morning and typed in the keyword "mercy." I would highly recommend it. The picture you get of God's heart for mercy even just skimming through the references is amazing. (I found a few verses I want to go back and study in more depth.)
God is an incredibly merciful God. Every single one of us deserves to die for our sin - and God, in His mercy, sent His Son to do that for us, so that we could live with Him... (and told us about it in advance so we would understand what He was doing: check out the rest of Isaiah 53). And that mercy is extended to everyone - the "least of these" as we see them - as we judge them by their circumstances to be - but also to anyone and everyone, no matter what their place or station in life. Yes, God has a heart for the poor - but He also has a heart for the poor in spirit. There is justice to be gained for all - and it has been. It's just some of us don't know it yet. So let's go tell them...
p.s. don't be surprised if a few of the people you need to tell are actually sitting in church on Sunday...