I’m really glad I’m not smarter. I’m grateful that, for the sake of my soul, it takes little physical evidence, tangible proof, or mathematical equation to make Christ and His love real to me. I’m glad I’m a feeler and not a thinker (according to Meyers and Briggs).
Because here’s the thing– I’m pretty stubborn. I get defensive easily. I have a quick wit, sure, but I have a quicker and more prickly tongue. I tend to exaggerate too. I can be dramatic. And what if I needed math or science or reason and logic, or really profound and complicated theology to break down my walls in order to believe God? I tremble for fear that it wouldn’t come because I know myself well enough to know how much I hate being proven wrong. I hate feeling as though I have failed. There is little I consider a “learning experience.” Instead in whatever way I have not measured up, I count myself inadequate.
Fleshly response looks like this– RUN AWAY. Hide. Get… Out… Of… The… Way. Bow out. Try something else.
Biblical parallel– the Israelites. God’s chosen elite. Set apart. Holy because He called them so. Rescued out of slavery. Delivered out of the desert wandering. Given a promised land and hope of a promised blessing. And still they were unfaithful. They saw His hand do miraculous things. They felt the presence of His majesty in peaceful clouds of shade and mighty pillars of fire that guarded them by day and guided them by night. They were endlessly pursued and romanced by a King.
One word- love. And lots of it.
I’m participating in a Bible Study right now that is delving into and dissecting the book of Isaiah. Two things have been stirred up in me as of late concerning what we have read and studied: (1) God’s people are endlessly frustrating. They have every reason not to wonder, worry, or doubt God’s goodness to them, and yet their eyes and hearts wander; (2) God’s love, grace, mercy and patience are never exhausted. They are unwavering. He never becomes undone. He doesn’t boil over.
What an illogical thing– to love something that loves you back only in words and not in action. How perplexing to continue to seek out and lavish love on someone who entertains your affections for a brief moment until they see something more alluring, no matter how deceptive, and suddenly they flee.
One word for such behavior– selfishness.
Webster defines selfishness as “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.”
I would dare say that selfishness is the exact opposite, an utter and complete contradiction to love. And if God is love, then our tendency towards selfishness is a tendency away from God. Thus, we must choose God, we must choose to love Him back and so love others.
But choosing to love someone doesn’t sound like love, right? It sounds like obligation.
That’s what I thought too… til I read the Bible. I will be the first to admit that I am a hopeless romantic. I love love. But what I am discovering, and I hope that you dear reader can relate to, is that there are times in which you will not always feel love. But where I think true, genuine, divinely inspired love comes into play, is through our actions of love towards others, and thus towards the Lord.
I kind of feel as though I am rambling with little direction, so I will get to the point– Jesus chose to die in the name of love.
He loves us. God loves us. But we have done nothing to create, stir, or encourage such love. We have not loved Him back, at least not to the extent that He first loved us. Instead, we have run around on Him. Truly. We, none of us, can claim absolute faithfulness to the Lord. But He has known no other.
How has He loved us? He selflessly and willingly chose to give His life for us. To stand in the gap of our sin and His holiness. The debt we could not pay He charged to Himself. We, like guilty prisoners with a life sentence, were bailed out. Not by a monetary pay-off either, for justice must be served justly. Rather, He died for us… because of us. Had we never failed, death would never be needed. But because of the sin of selfishness, He intervened.
And, if I may be so bold, I would dare say He did not intervene for our sake. I think, maybe, He died in our place for His name’s sake. For the sake of His holiness, His grace, His mercy, His justice, but primarily, for the glory and praise of His love.
We were, at the very start, created in love and for love. While He breathed everything else into existence, He crafted us with His own hands. He made us in His image and His image is lovely and good. But when we muddied it up, when we strayed, He graciously planned for the redemption of His bride, because in redeeming us when we deserve no such redemption, He shows the magnitude of His love and the glory of His name. And the only proper response to such an act, to so much underserved and unwarranted love, is worship.
As we approach the day of His resurrection, the day that love conquered sin and death and freed us to receive His life and love, may remember with revived and purified clarity that it was love that saved us. It is love that surrounds us now as we seek to be like Him to know Him, and it is love that shows us who He is and who we are in the light of His glorious grace.