Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The essential nature and character of God.
The Mercy of God ‘Mercy’ in English means ‘the compassionate treatment of an offender’, ‘patience and forbearance towards those people in one’s power’. The main New Testament word (Greek – eleos), assumes the person who gives mercy has enough resources at their own disposal to meet the needs of the person who is to receive it. God has very, very large amounts of mercy towards humanity (Ephesians 2:4,5). We are individually invited to receive mercy from the holy God (Hebrews
4:13-16). God is mercy. He does not merely have mercy. He will never lose it! He is merciful in His very self-being and He always has been. In the Old Testament God’s mercy is often spoken of (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 4:31). In some translations different words are used ‘compassion’, ‘pity’, ‘love’, ‘kindness’, ‘patience’ – see Psalm 103:8-17 in the New International Version, and compare to the Good News Bible or the King James Version. At the start of many Muslim actions, the phrase is used “Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim”. Muslims frequently remind themselves that Allah is ‘all merciful and all compassionate’, or ‘most gracious and the giver of grace’. These are important names (or attributes) of God to Muslims, emphasised by the repetition of this phrase at the beginning of almost every surah in the Qur’an. But we’ll see that their understanding of how God gives us mercy is very different from ours.
Mercy demonstrates the goodness and love of God in action. Christians believe we all stand guilty before God. But He does not forget us, as if we were in the condemned cell of Kober prison, Khartoum Bahri, awaiting execution any day now. God sees us as in urgent and desperate need of His own divine help! We do not deserve His help. We cannot earn His help. We cannot buy our release through a collection of money or good deeds from our friends. Our own goodness will never outweigh our badness! So, think about these next five words - and if you want to shout ‘hallelujah’ it may be a great time to do so - God’s mercy gave us Jesus! (1 Peter
Thinking it through.
(a). List as many of the natural mercies of God you can think of – the ones that He gives to everyone.
(b). Why does everyone need God’s mercy?
(c). Why is it important to understand, ‘God’s mercy gave us Jesus’?