Thursday, April 19, 2007

Your Love...

By Darrell Evans:
Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, intimate
I find I'm moving to the rhythms of Your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place
Your love is extravagant

Spread wide in the arms of Christ
Is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known
For You considered me a friend
Captured my heart again

Your love has given me a freedom
Like I've never known
And Your love is bringing me home

Your love is extravagant
Your love is extravagant

I love what You're doing in me, Lord
And I'm thankful, Lord
What You're doing in my heart
You're changing me, changing me...

Deeper than the deepest ocean
Higher than the highest mountain
Reaches higher than the heavens
And still it finds its way to me...

And You're patient, Lord
And You're kind to me
Though I'm failing You sometimes
Your love never has failed me
Sometimes at points in life I don't know what to say or do. So when I have sufficient presence of mind, I put on a song. Sometimes I just give it back to God, sometimes I write the words down to help me see what's actually there. (I've got a notebook here with plenty of these scribblings - though I doubt anybody but I could easily read it.) This week has been one of those times where I see in life how much I've put my dependence for so many things on people where that should be placed in God.

The first time I sat down and read Judges, I was incredulous. It's the story of Israel under the direction of a series of judges over the course of a few hundred years. There were several judges at a time in power in Israel - each one had authority over some region. Under God, these judges were the highest authority in the land. It was their job to finish the task that Joshua had begun, clearing the land of the people that God told them to drive out.

The part about the story that left me incredulous was the continual fluctuations between prosperity and depravity. Consistently the Israelites would fall into sin, and then a righteous judge would lead them out of it. While in sin, they would experience the consequences of that sin. When led out of it, they experienced the prosperity, success, and they flourished as God had promised that they would. The part that I couldn't understand was how they could go through so many of these cycles so fast. Reading the book, it's clear that within a single generation the people would fall into and be raised out of sin multiple times. I asked how a people could be so stupid as to forget how God rewards righteousness and how sin results in misery.

I could ask the same question of myself now. How does it happen? Gradually. With small compromises. With apathy.

That last one...apathy. That is probably the most underrated sin in the world. It's not hate that's the opposite of love. Apathy is. It's written (in Scripture, no less) that God would prefer someone be actively opposed to Him than that the person simply not care. When You're the omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the universe Who has empowered a piece of that creation with the choice to love or hate, it's obvious that He would prefer we love (one another and Him). If that Creator would have preferred His creation to hate Him, then it seems reasonable that He hates them - and why create something that He hates and let it continue its meager existence making Him miserable?

God gave us this choice to decide whether to love him or to despise him. Being a God of love, He has created a home for both groups of people. In one (termed Heaven), humanity will know intimacy with God unlike anything we've ever imagined. We'll no more be His equals than a 2-year-old is the equal of his parents, but the relationship will be similar. For those who have chosen disdain over love, God provides a home as well. It's the only place in the universe where He shields His presence, allowing the people there isolation from His presence. This is what Hell is. It's not some burning pit with a demonic overlord who takes joy in the plight of all the captives. Hell was created as a home for those demons who felt that they could aspire to the position of Almighty. No piece of humanity was ever intended for Hell, but to bring a person into Heaven who isn't in love with God would be more of a punishment to them than Hell would be.

This all relates back to that apathy thing, I swear.

Because humanity was never intended to go to Hell, but because we made choices that alienated us from our Creator, and because He loved us so much, He enacted a plan to provide escape. He took on the guise of an ordinary human, but lived a life fully honoring to the Father. From birth until crucifixion, Jesus lived His life under the exact same power that every human on this planet has access to. He did it by living a life in harmony with the will of the Spirit, continually in communion (not the bread & wine ceremony, but "state of communing") with the Father. He was fully God in every way, but He suppressed his divinity to provide a perfect example of how we should live our lives. This resulted in a death of significant pain, indignity, and misery inflicted upon Him by all humanity. He did that because He loved us so much that He was willing to endure absolutely anything if only one person would use that to spend eternity with Him.

How can one look at that with apathy? You can look at it as a myth if you want (though nobody can reasonably deny that a man named Jesus lived and died in this manner - there's far too much evidence to deny that). You can claim that the tales of the supernatural in the Bible are just stories that don't have relevance today. If you do that, then you would have to look down your nose in derision at this man Jesus who went to a very painful death for no reason at all except maybe some mental deficiency which convinced him that he was the son of a nonexistent god. At the very least you would have to scoff him. After all, who would hold someone in high esteem who stepped in front of a runaway train to stop it with his bare hands before it careened off the side of a cliff? Is that a mark of honor or abject stupidity?

If that man is the Son of the One True God and is capable of successfully stopping the runaway train with his bare hands, and He does do so - who would react with apathy? Who would look at that and just not care?

How is it that people have been convinced that it's perfectly natural to be apathetic towards God? There isn't anything more unnatural I can think of. Either God is the One most worthy of our adoration and love or his existence is a myth that only serves to stagnate our culture.

3 comments:

Lori Ann said...

Wow.

TurboNed said...

I get introspective at times. There's more to me than meets the eye?

Jester said...

Right on!