Monday, May 18, 2009

Reflective Thoughts as of Late

Here was the thought that permeated my mind Sunday morning that I just had to write down lest I forget it.

The only thing that shakes me out of my self-centeredness is not ponderings of my relationship with God but increasing awareness of God's Glory.  My relationship with God can still be all about me.  Recognition of His Glory, of His Intensity, drops me to my knees and I'm compelled to love Him accurately and obey His Kingdom design to represent Him to others through love.

Then, during the sermon, I watched the faces of my fellow congregants as my Pastor spoke on our identities' foundation being God's Love.  He prefaced the sermon saying this was one of the most essential truths needing to be understood by the Church.  The faces of those listening throughout the sermon, for the most part, were not filled with anticipation of affirmation of thought, as if they just needed to be reassured God loved them, so they could then go out and live properly.  They, for the most part, were not on the edge of their seat soaking up anything they have never heard a thousand times before.  

God's love is foundational to understanding our identity as Children of God, as Christ's representatives for the Kingdom, as ambassadors of reconciliation.  God's love has no meaning if we fail to understand who God is!  The only thing that makes me comprehend God's more true nature as loving and gracious and compassionate is when I understand that God should slay us all for our inadequacy compared to Him.  Moses would have surely dropped dead if he beheld God's presence face to face.  

I hear how great God's love is for us.  If I don't understand the Glorious, Horrifying Might of Him who acts in lovingkindness toward undeserving sinners, but rather view him like my biological father, I would quite think God's love is a waste of time and not worth the heart-ache.  Not as if my biological dad is a scumbag (he is not); he simply does not offer a love that inspires me, nay compels me, to die for the world to know about it.  His love is not that big.  God's love is that big, however, but not if we fail to grasp who He is.  

My pastor used John 15:8-11 as a proof text for his point but passed right over the most central point of it:

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

"These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

Did you catch it?  Jesus speaks first about the Father's glory!  Why mention it if it is not central to His message?  Jesus is most concerned not with us abiding in His love, but with the Father's glory being recognized; it just happens to be that He has planned for His Glory to be seen through our abiding love in Him. 

The Abiding Love is not the END.  It is the MEANS to the END!  What good is it to teach the mean as being the end when it is not supported by Scripture and does not bear much fruit (I have been taught for twelve years that it's all about our relationship with God and that He loves us, to no avail... I've been only slightly influenced to abide in Christ as a result and that has only been out of pride to do the Faith thing better... it looks a lot like me earning my keep more than God serving me)?  

We need to teach that we have an incredible God, far greater than we can comprehend and that if we were to go before Him in judgement, the verdict should be frightening.  Then we should teach that there is no hope us according to anything we can do.  Nothing we accomplish for God should foster a sense of propitiation in us.  All service to God is filthy rags, including those commands straight from Jesus that sound great.  Then we should teach that God, first as reflective of His Glory, shows mercy on the depraved and serves us by making communion with Him possible.  Then we should teach that it is out of both gratitude and fear (for God remains wrathful) that we gladly accept the new nature in the spirit, empowered only by the Spirit, and that we should be conscientious to keep in our thoughts that all is possible only when God acts, not us.  This teaching rightly remains focused on God's centrality and sovereignty.  It does not even hint at the possibility of us having any power, for we do not (apart from God).  And it is offensive, as the gospel should be.  

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