Waiting and waiting and searching and finding. The time between an object lost and an object found is a tension and a test. There are those who wait and those who search when something is lost. Usually, these are done with some level of angst. Yet, it’s amazing how quickly everything changes when something is found.
The search stops, the waiting stops, a sigh of relief, and the status of the object is given a new light. Because in finding, in laying your eyes on what was lost, in rediscovering it, the object now that it is within reach is rejoiced over. It is rejoiced over because a sense of possession is restored. When you possess or have something, you can give it away, share it and celebrate it.
When we are found by God, we find that the world we live in is lost. We are close enough to God to be filled with life and breath yet life feels far from the way things should be.
If I am being honest with myself, I can say it’s easy to get lost, its easy to forget, its easy to fall. But in Jesus Christ, it in many ways it is easier to stand, it is easier to remember, and it is easier to lay down your life for God’s sake.
In the final 5 verses of Jude’s short letter, he addresses how we keep from getting lost or sidetracked again. Jude urges us to be kept in the love of God, to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. And while we remain in that state, we should give mercy to the doubter and reach for others to pull them out of a fire of a life without Jesus.
Then he makes a radical statement: “show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
In showing mercy, there is a certain characteristic that gives it power. Mercy is the ability to withhold all punishment from a person while maintaining a hatred for the sin and behavior that is doing harm. Mercy warms and comforts the individual who receives it while severing ties with the lies associated with our evil desires.
It does not merely withhold judgment, mercy removes the stains on our clothes calling us to discard that which caused the stain. Mercy reminds us that sinful behavior, choices that are against God are deadly, but those who show mercy are not deadly; they are life-giving.
You and I have been found. Not only that, we have been found out. Every filthy thing we’ve done Jesus knows and died for because of God’s strong love. In light of the forgiveness and cleansing and newness that come from Christ, we are kept from stumbling and presented as innocent in the presence of God. We approach God as the found, innocent ones whom God is proud to call His children.
We can breathe a sigh of relief. Our identity is found in what God says about. Child, beloved, brother and sister, saint. Any other desire or label contending for our identity is either a lie or incomplete. We are not merely what we do or what we want to choose, we find over-flowing life in what God has chosen for us.