This morning we will consider the important role a mediator can play when two people need to come to an agreement.
You’ve probably heard of court-ordered mediation. This is typically ordered by the court to see if disputing parties can come to an agreement before a judge needs to get involved and make a legal ruling. And one of the main goals is to clearly identify the terms of any conflict or disagreement, and then positions held by the parties. The mediator’s job is to listen to all sides and move things in a direction that may lead to agreement. In its simplest form, mediation is only dealing with two parties. As a tool to end armed conflict, a mediator may have to deal with many, many more than two. I have heard this process referred to as “herding cats .“
Understanding the terms is really a key consideration to a proper mediation. If you haven’t defined what the issues are, it’s pretty tough to solve them effectively. And a misunderstanding of terms is much easier than one might imagine.
For example, it’s quite possible that you read the topic line of today’s daily devotional and thought that I was going to be speaking about “meditation,” meaning thinking deeply about and reflecting upon specific scriptures. But meditation and mediation are two very different things. And one small point of misunderstanding can make things quite confusing.
I remember actually using this possibility of confusion to my advantage. I used to live in Salem, Massachusetts. This is a city widely known for its emphasis on witchcraft, and as location for witchcraft trials in the United States in the 1600s. As anyone who has been to Salem knows, witches and witchcraft are a major theme in this city. An image of which adorns every police car, fire engine, and ambulance. The city proclaims itself as “The Witch City“ and is very proud to be affiliated with this moniker. There are numerous museums and stores focused exclusively on witchcraft and spiritism.
Our church came up with a fairly unique plan to share the Bible with people who had come to Salem with a view towards having some sort of spiritual encounter. We set up a table across the street from the Witch Museum. Around the table we had signs announcing “FREE PSALM READINGS.” Of course, many people simply glanced at the sign and thought we were offering a free PALM reading, which fit very well within the theme that they had visited Salem to experience. Numerous people dutifully came over to the table, sat down and extended their right hand across the table to the person sitting on the other side. It provided an excellent opportunity for the Christian sitting across the table to share Psalms proclaiming that this person was loved by God, that God desires to protect and preserve them, that God desires to be their shepherd and lead them and guide them and provide for them. We saw some amazing transformations.
Yes, getting the terms right is a critical first step.
In this mediation one of the terms that has to be clearly determined is sin. The issue is – we’ve got it. Not only have we got it, but it’s killing us. Like a virulent cancer, it will eventually utterly destroy us. It will completely illuminate our potential for a relationship with our loving creator.
Another key term that must be defined is grace. I explain grace with an acronym. God‘s Riches At Christ’s Expense. It is a gift. It is given with love and offered without restriction. Though God offers his grace freely to everyone, and therefore it is offered without restriction; it is not offered without condition. The requirement for receiving God‘s grace (and with it the complete release of the debt we owe due to our sin) is a simple one. If we confess with our mouth Jesus Christ as our Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we receive His grace. period.
No amount of work on our behalf can make us worthy. No amount of preparation on our behalf gets us in a better position to receive it. It would be like a fish trying to clean itself before the fisherman draws it from the sea. The task of cleaning the fish is the job of the fisherman, not the fish.
Today’s verse tells us
THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MANKIND, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.
So here we see this is a mediation between multiple parties. The one God and mankind. Mankind of course is not a single party, but is a vast multiplicity of billions of parties all of whom are receiving the same offer from the one true God.
And there is only one mediator, the man Christ Jesus. If you have ever been in a court ordered mediation, you know that the mediator must be accepted by both parties before any mediation can begin. You can’t simply walk into the courtroom and announce that you have chosen a mediator that has not been accepted by the other party. It simply doesn’t work that way. The offer of the court is a simple one: Meet the requirements of the mediation and work within the mediation process or face the judge and the full weight of the law.
The man Christ Jesus is the only mediator that the one true God will accept. Others may come with various claims, skills, or values; but the Bible is clear that the one true God has appointed only one mediator. It wasn’t Zoroaster, or Mohammed, or Buddha, or Confucius. It is the man Christ Jesus. If you intend to enter into the mediation and receive the offer that God is making available, you have one possible choice of a mediator. Select another one and head to the mediation, and you will find out that God does not accept the mediator with which you arrive.
Hey, let’s face it – the offer of His mediation is an amazing one! Full and absolute forgiveness for every sin. The only requirement is the acceptance of Christ’s lordship. Accompanying this forgiveness is an offer of great grace, multiple gifts, inherent freedom, and an invitation to impact and advance the kingdom of God. Nothing could be greater.
The other option is to await the pleasure of the court and face the judge who will determine whether you are guilty of sin or not. He is a good judge, and He does it very well. His verdicts are always entirely accurate, and He overlooks no evidence. None of us will ever stand before this judge proclaiming that we are innocent and having that claim supported by the evidence. All of us have sinned. All of us are guilty. The judge WILL find us guilty.
God’s offer of grace through His chosen mediator is the only offer that makes any sense at all.
THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MANKIND, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS
Today you have a choice. Accept a mediator or face a judge.