READ: Exodus 34-36, Psalm 29, Mark 1, Romans 1
Mercy and Truth
Truth without mercy kills. Mercy without truth corrupts. Intimacy in relationship is impossible without large doses of both. Chuck Miller points out that with grace alone you can have friendship – but you cannot have intimacy. Only when truth and grace intertwine do friendships and marriages become intimate.
Church planting teams in the Muslim world are often organized around Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). These charters lay out the values, vision, and guidelines for teams so that new members can determine whether or not they want to join. These MOUs are covenantal. In Exodus 34:27, God makes a covenant with His people through Moses and says, “According to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you.” The point is not rigid legalism, the point is the spirit of the communication – understandable only because Moses was intimate with God (40 days and nights without water, soaking up God’s presence, face glowing understanding). God spoke mercy and truth to Moses – not just rules and regulations – and Moses could grasp the spirit (tenor) of God’s words.
MOUs (the law) are not the point. They are a starting place for those that do not know us. The point is intimacy derived over time from liberal application of both mercy and truth. When my team knows me, the MOU is no longer necessary. Intimacy reveals a person’s will better than a charter. Knowing who our authority is leads us to surety on what pleases them, and this confidence is our counsel.
Moses appeals endearingly to God: “Let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people” (Ex. 34:9). God – giver of mercy and truth – knows that we need both. He is patient enough to travel with us on our faltering journey to live in both realities. Let us likewise journey with others – despite their imbalances one way or the other – and give what we have received. God walks with us, He gives grace and truth, we have intimacy with Him, and in that intimacy is joy.
Let us walk with others with the same shining face.