"In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be the highest of the mountains. Many peoples shall come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.'" - Isaiah 2:2-3
One day a group of my childhood friends decided to play King of the Mountain. The goal was get to the top of the hill, knock off the current "king" before digging in to defend your position. On that day, Keith, the neighborhood bully, was at the top. But instead of doing excessive damage to his attackers, Keith deflected us tenderly, like a big brother.
Things might have stayed on that harmonious note had it not been for the devilish mind of young Matthew Laney. Propelled by a surge of vengeance, I charged at Keith from behind and knocked him down. Only then did it occur to me that the deposed King Keith would rise again and I would be left all alone to defend myself against a humiliated older kid twice my size. Remarkably, I lived to tell the tale.
Jesus rewrote the rules of this age old game of dominance with the Sermon on the Mount where he said "Blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers" and on the hill of Calvary, where Jesus prayed "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." On those hills Jesus was not only the King of the Mountain, but the King of Mercy. It was the ultimate game changer.
Whose rules will you follow today?
Lord, my heart is full of judgment and my eyes are full of hate,
Lord, your arm outstretched in power covers us with unbridled grace.
- "King of Mercy" by Justin McRoberts
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.