Mercy's Door to Fellowship
Loneliness has an ugly feel about it. It is different from being 'alone', which means that nobody else is there (except God) because you can be lonely in a crowd. But the sense of isolation, believing that nobody cares, smells of rejection and the desolation that can be so disturbing. For scattered refugees, as some of Peter's Christian readers were, it is excellent news that God had not abandoned them to an uncertain fate. Rather they had been formed into a growing network of people who were God's very own 'business partners' in the gospel.
Some of Peter’s readers would have a Jewish background. They had a clear cultural and religious identity, but as believers in Jesus, they would have been estranged from their people. Gentile believers, scattered through persecution, would have had no previous experience of being a part of a ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9). But now, both Jews and Gentiles who trusted in Jesus had become the people of God, there was no difference between them and neither was excluded from being special to Him (Galatians 3:28).
The route into God's favour has nothing to do with people being good, saying prayers, giving offerings or helping the poor (although true Christians will want to do all of these). If it were, then we would become proud in our religious piety (Ephesians 2:8-9). No, the access point of the Kingdom of God is the mercy He offers to sinners who cannot help themselves (1 Timothy 1:16). And that mercy flows from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, whereby all who want to receive mercy, can have their sins fully and completely forgiven (www.crosscheck.org.uk).
It is one thing to be offered mercy, and another to receive it. We receive mercy from God when we come in repentance and accept that Jesus was punished for the sins we have done (1 John 1:8). As we confess our sins, God pours out His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Sin separates us from God and others, but receiving His mercy brings us into the commonwealth of His kingdom: we are no longer alienated, but brought close to God and many other Christians (even though we cannot see them - like the thousands who are reading Word@Work today!). So, if you know His mercy, also embrace His people. You need never be lonely again.
© Dr Paul Adams