Saturday, May 17, 2014

God's Love Revealed Through Us


II Tim.1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

So often we have heard these words and many times the application centers around our earthly lives. People have told us to be bold in business opportunities, or in investments, or in politics, or even in war. But it seems the emphasis is always on rejecting the spirit of fear and embracing the spirit of power, but little emphasis is placed upon the spirit of love. And this love does not come from this world, but it comes from above.

Let us be very honest and transparent. It is most difficult to love as Christ loves, especially toward those people who reject Christ. It is a profound paradox that God can love sinners and sentence them to eternal judgment as well. That is in the realm of mystery but it is true nonetheless. The kind of theology that teaches that God hates the non-elect makes room for hardened hearts and self righteousness.

Rom.5:8 - But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves the sinner. All sinners. The unambiguous teaching of Scripture has always been that God loves everyone and has given His life for everyone as well. That is the divine love which we are called to emulate. Leave it to carnal men to create a false theology that suggests God hates those to whom He has not offered redemption, and climbing upon that foundation of hate it becomes almost God-like to hate sinners as well. But that is not Christ.

Just a cursory reading of the 13th chapter of I Corinthians presents a colossal challenge concerning the manifestations of love. This is no “Valentine’s day” kind of love, or even some saccharine mush that is much more like a freshman crush than an eternal sacrifice. This kind of love has no equal. But again, we are called, yea commanded, to love others as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. Can there be any higher challenge?

And just telling them the truth falls embarrassingly short of loving them as Christ does. Who would have thought that some in the doctrinal Bourgeoisie would suggest that spouting doctrinal truth would suffice as love? In an astounding act of creative self righteousness, some believers have used truth to circumvent the colossal challenges of being and living like Christ. Telling people the truth is indeed a necessary component of divine love, but there are many deeply sacrificial and self denying aspects of divine love that are disobliging to our flesh and present demanding paths of discipleship not usually traversed by the common believer‘s journey. These paths all have one thing in common: a destination called Golgotha.

And it is at the place of crucifixion that we find the treasure trove of God’s love. And although its depths have never been plumbed, we are called to go beyond gazing, beyond the doctrinal realities, and beyond just pointing to its redemption. We are called to die. And birthed in that death is the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. What words can wrap around such a mystery, and yet that is our command.

God’s love is Jim Elliot refusing to fire upon the Indians who are running to kill him. God’s love is a 20 year old woman contracting leprosy and continuing to minister to those who God loves. God’s love is two young American women wearing burqas so they can reach the Taliban women. And perhaps this is God’s love revealed in human vessels:

Two young Moravians heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. And the owner had said, "No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he’s shipwrecked we’ll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave; but he’s never going to talk to any of us about God. I’m through with all that nonsense." Three thousand salves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic and there to live and die without hearing of Christ. Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale, for he paid no more than he would for any slave, to pay their passage out to his island for he wouldn’t even transport them. As the ship left it’s pier in the river at Hamburg and was going out into the North Sea, carried with the tide, the Moravians had come from Herrenhut to see these two lads off, in their early twenties. Never to return again, for this wasn’t a four year term; they sold themselves into life-time slavery. Simply that as slaves, they could be a s Christians where these others were. The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the gap widened and the housings had been cast off and were being curled up there on the pier, and the young boys saw the widening gap, one lad with his arm liked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them, they were these: "MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN, RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!" This became the call of Moravian missions. And this is the only reason for being, That the Lamb that was slain, may receive the reward of His suffering.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jesus placed a high value on all human beings and therefore respected all men. It is easy to respect the godly and the cultured and the intelligent. We can even think that we have attained to great heights when we love all our fellow-believers in Christ. But the glory of God was seen in Jesus' love for all men. Jesus never despised anyone for his poverty, ignorance, ugliness or lack of culture. He specifically stated that the whole world and all that it contained was not as valuable as one human soul (Mk. 8:36). That was how He valued men. And so He delighted in all men. He saw men deceived and bound by Satan; and He longed to set them free.

So great was this longing born of love, that He was willing to pay the ultimate price to free men from sin's grip over their lives. And because He was willing to die for men to save them from their sins, He earned the right to preach against sin forcefully. We have no right to preach against sin, if either we have not judged that sin in our own flesh and overcome, or if we are unwilling to die (if need be) to save others from the sin that we preach against. This is what it means to "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15).