In his song, The Other Side of the World, Rich Mullins sang, "I can see the people who have learned to walk in faith, with mercy in their hearts and glory on their faces."
Being a human is a whole experience of mind, body and heart. The practice of faith over the centuries has tilted toward an emphasis and dependence on an intellectual study of and apologetic for being a Christian. I speak out not to demean nor discount intellectual study and the resulting development. I know the value of education, and being educated in the written Word of God is without equal for the Christian.
However, I have spoken with a variety Christians and read many others over the years who cry out for a deeper experience of God than ritual, tradition and rote teaching provide. When will we acknowledge what is missing? Godliness with contentment is great gain. Godliness is the fullness of God in the life of an individual and that lived out among others. If God is love, godliness is loving others. Could it be as simple as our love is lacking and so then our experience of the depths of God?
This is not about sentimental or soulish love. The Word teaches clearly what love is and its foundation on the Spirit of God. How shall it be achieved that we become a people with mercy in our hearts? I submit it is the practice of that aspect of Christianity known as in the spirit. We live in a day when we Christians will speak of loving others, but the action itself is largely reserved for members of our group, those folks who share our denominational flavor; and this we do poorly. One group teaches water baptism is essential for salvation and another group says not. Is such division over doctrine not a grief to the Father? Is it time to identify these differences as the winds of doctrine which the Scripture warns against?
Better that we learn the walk of the in-dwelling Christ; and in finding there mercy for ourselves, we stand on Him and regard one another with grace and forbearance. Forbearance is defined by Webster as, "a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation)." Can we refrain from enforcing our turf beliefs on others? Can we refrain from self-righteous judgment? Only as we embrace with and in Christ a way of being that does not condemn. If nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, might we refrain from separating ourselves from the loving of others who acknowledge Christ and Him crucified for sin and risen from the dead?
Learning to love deeply is a natural growth of walking with Jesus. I suggest this involves accepting the Word to be the living Word in the form of the Holy Spirit, and allowing Him to work within our whole selves. He must become more than an intellectual apologetic to us. In learning more about being in Him, we will find the wisdom of releasing ourselves from proving our worth by doing what we think is right.