By Richard Beadle
After you have been a disciple of Jesus for several decades, you cannot help but marvel
at the mercy and grace of Yahweh, evidenced on your journey. As I contemplate the last
30 plus years – there are two things that I have learned that has remained consistent
through all the ups and down, stops and starts, challenges and disappointments and
First, there is nothing I can do to deserve the love of God, expressed in His mercy
and grace poured out for me.
Second, there is nothing I can do to change the love of God, expressed in His mercy and grace poured out for me! Because of our shared history, I am sure that many Christians in the restoration heritage
can certainly connect with my own response to Paul’s words as he taught the disciples
in Ephesus about the mercy and grace of God:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive
with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have
been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)
Maybe for the first time in 30 years, I recently paused to reflect on these specific
characteristics of God: His abundant, overflowing mercy and His bountiful, unending
When the Apostle Paul describes God as being “rich in mercy”, the Greek word
“plousios” (translated as rich) means more than simply having a great deal of wealth,
because it comes from a root word which can better be explained as “abundantly
supplied”. Or to put it another way, “being plentifully enriched with a resource in its
fullness, far beyond and exceeding the expected need”.
That is indeed an amazing thought! The fact that our God is exceedingly rich in mercy,
so much so that His mercy towards us will never be used up, and he will never run out
of its resource. This is the mercy that does not treat us as our sins deserve; this mercy
that saves us who understand that we are undeserving – because we are liars, cheats,
murderers, blasphemers, violent, unloving, and filled up with hatred and selfishness.
Whether we were living in fornication or adultery, whether we had committed abortion or
murder, whether we were filled with deceit or malice, or pride or envy… even in the very
worst of our sinfulness, the richness of God’s mercy was still made available to save us!
But it didn’t stop there, because God is not only rich in mercy, but rich in grace as well!
So, not only does He not treat us as our sins deserve, but on top of all, He provides for
us bounties of blessings and favor that we don’t deserve, as well!!
And so in John chapter 1: 16 we read: “Out of his fullness we have all received
grace in place of grace already given.”
I must admit that fully understanding all of this, is more than a little beyond me. It is
sufficient for me to be grateful to God for His mercy and grace, poured out so
abundantly in my life.
Acknowledging this begs the question – how does this make me treat others,
especially when I think about my brothers and sisters from other church groups?
Because as amazed as I am about the mercy and grace of God, I am even more
amazed when I consider the things that we have allowed to divide us from one another!
In Romans chapter 12: 1, we find the following words from Paul:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable
Paul teaches that it is reasonable to expect a certain reaction in our lives, in direct
response to the mercies that God has shown us! I like the NIV translation which exhorts
us to live “in view of God’s mercy”. But what exactly should having God’s mercy in our
perspective, produce in us?
Paul goes on to teach that sincere love and devotion to one another, honoring one
another above ourselves, and considering ourselves with sober judgment are all
responses to having a “view of God’s mercy”. And so, because I have God’s mercy in
my own life firmly in my gaze, I will desire to live at peace with everyone, as far as it
depends on me! And all this because I am simply a grateful recipient of God’s mercy, I
have no choice but to extend it to my brothers and sisters.
Here is the question I have been asking myself: Am I really so presumptuous to believe
that the same God who is so rich in mercy, and who was willing to show His mercy to
me, a “blasphemer and persecutor and a violent man” would be unwilling to accept my
brother or sister who has a different opinion than my own, maybe about the use of
instrumental music in worship, or women’s roles in the church? Do I dare to think that
the same God, who pours out “grace in place of grace already given” for me, who
lavishly provides forgiveness of my most wretched sins out of “the fullness of His grace”
– that He would withhold His grace from any of His followers, simply because they may attend a different church group, or simply because they may call themselves Disciples
of Christ, or Christian Churches, or Churches of Christ? Do I suppose that the “God of
all grace” does not have enough grace to save someone who may be focused on other
aspects of God’s divine character, or Christian teachings that my own faith group has
Could it be that the divisions and disunity we find within our church family, and indeed
across different Christian faith groups, really stem from a deep-rooted misunderstanding
of, or lack of appreciation for Who our God really is? Or maybe we have simply stopped
looking upon our Lord, because we are instead focused on our own agendas! We
should certainly be making much greater effort towards living “in view of God’s mercy” in
our relationships within the body of Christ.
And as we look towards many more decades of service as the Lord wills, my prayer is
for true humility in our churches as we learn to keep our perspectives fully fixed on
God’s mercy towards us – in spite of our many weaknesses! And may He who has been
so rich in mercy continue to extend bountifully His mercy in our lives – and while we
struggle for unity, may also struggle to have the humility to extend to one another – and
to everyone else – that same measure of unyielding grace which He lavishes upon every
single one of us, every single day!
“Richard Beadle was baptized as a teenager in the Kingston Church of Christ in Kingston, Jamaica in 1989. Even as a teenager, he showed a passion for ministry, converting family members and over the years participating in local and Caribbean church plantings in both ICOC congregations (where he was converted) and more recently in Churches of Christ. Trained in mainstream media, Richard served several years as a contributor and Caribbean correspondent for DisciplesToday.net and loves to use his journalistic talents and creativity to preach the gospel and encourage greater unity in the body of Christ. He currently lives with his wife Hannah in Grenada, on sabbatical after serving as Pulpit Minister for the Church of Christ in the small Caribbean Island of Carriacou. Richard shares his passion for the mission of Christ on their YouTube channel “The Beadles Ministry” using original spoken word/ poetry and bible studies, and is currently working on his first full-length publication. In their spare time, Richard and Hannah volunteer with serving the youth in the community and promoting their faith-based adult literacy project.”