In Greek, the phrase means, “Lord, have mercy.”
What catches my breath in my throat is how beautiful the phrase sounds. I remember singing it in high school for Honor Choir or All State auditions, I’m not sure which. I am sure I was drawn in by the mystery of its beauty and its tragedy … but not understanding why.
Today, the mystery wound itself around my heart’s cry for my students. As I sat at the mechanic shop (praise the Lord my severely overheated car only needed a simple little tube that cost 2 dozen eggs and some change!) reading Think by John Piper, I thought about how we are called to be both like children (Matthew 18:3), but not children at all (1 Corinthians 14:20).
I can think of many times I’ve been accused of being excessively childish and an almost equally amount of times I’ve been accused of being too serious. And, um, the accusations are often true. The pros and cons of this see-saw are something only the Lord can measure out. But, I’m not going to give up that easy.
I love that the God of all the universe suggests we become like children… completely dependent for every need and completely abandoned to all kinds of joy; completely honest about doubts and completely transparent about fear. We need Him just as desperately for joy as we do for our bread and I think He delights equally to give them.
I love that when Zaccheus heard Jesus was coming to town, he lost all sense of shame or fear and scurried right on up that Sycamore tree. And oh how I love Jesus when he gives Zaccheus (see this sermon by George Whitefield) the invitation to come down … and to please host him (Jesus) at his house for a celebration! Zaccheus abandoned all pride and position just to glimpse the Man with the power to give him a place in eternity.
Can you believe it? God didn’t move Zaccheus to walk stoically up an aisle at an altar call and calmly confess by repeating a mechanical prayer. God moved in Zaccheus and the little guy couldn’t reach for the branches fast enough. He desperately wanted to see Jesus and nothing else mattered. Only a child would act like that. And I love that Jesus loved it.
On the other/same hand (I refuse to think these things are actually separate), Paul cautions the church in Corinth to not be children “in your thinking.” We are to be infants in regard to evil, but mature in our thinking. It is much easier to do the opposite – mature about evil and infants in our thinking. We are not called to be infants about everything… just evil. The act of thinking will bring us into maturity, just like a child who learns to walk or start mumbling phrases. Those lessons require thinking. Sometimes we get so concerned about being “relevant” that we start to be mature about the evil in the world. I can’t say I know what it means to be innocent of evil (Romans 16:19) and wise about what is good, but I think it has a lot to do with Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
As we actively think on these things, in the pursuit of Scripture and its application in our lives, the evil things of our dark world becomes less appealing, while the wisdom about living in the darkness makes our light shine like a million suns.
It’s getting late and I should wrap this up.
Basically, when my heart cries out Kyrie Eleison today, I am saying, “Lord, have mercy on me when I am mature about evil and innocent about good. And, Lord have mercy on my students as they choose what to think on, be wise about, and be innocent of. Oh, Lord please have mercy!”
What better place to learn about this desperate plea than through music… through the beautiful voice of a child. Here’s a young English boy singing Kyrie recorded live in Dublin with a full choir and orchestra. Also this article from the Gospel Coalition, “Ordinary Evil and the Factory that Made Corpses” has provoked some thoughts on what it is to be innocent of evil, or completely mixed up in it.
let LOVE fly like cRaZy