Sunday, May 8, 2011

When people are big and God is small #7

A broken cup floating in the ocean. It’s overwhelming, it’s abundant, it’s engulfing. Welch writes, ‘Our cup cannot contain what God bestows on us.’ There are no needs left to be met. God covers the shamed. He accepts the rejected. He protects the threatened. There is only the overflow of God’s love. God gives us himself. When God is big I’m controlled by him and not by people. I’m free to love God and love others, because I fear God alone.

God used a Bible study on 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2 to push me towards serving Him full time in a more formal way. I’d been running the other direction and making excuses for some time. I attended a meeting where I discovered church leaders asked me to consider a ministry apprenticeship in the next year. I avoided the next meeting I was invited to.

2 Corinthians 5:13-15 says, ‘If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’

Christ’s love compels, controls, restrains, requires, demands. I’ve already lost everything. I’ve died. The big decision is to be Christian or not Christian. Everything after that is little. His work of reconciling people to himself, His entrusting of the ministry of reconciliation, it’s all about Jesus, all about God and His plans and purposes, I’m controlled by Him.

The final chapters of Welch’s work affirm, ‘You’re loved in Christ. Go and love others.’ Welch has reoriented our view of God and our view of ourselves. He now sets us straight with respect to our view of others. People are not to be idolised or feared, as we fear God. When we’re dependent on God and not on others we’re then free to love them. The radical call is to love your enemy.

This is possible in Christ. Sin and death and all enemies are defeated by Jesus. He’s at God’s right hand waiting for them to be made the footstool for his feet. Every knee will bow to Jesus in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Knowing the risen Christ, we know the outcome of history. Jesus wins. As the psalmist did, as Jesus did, we’re to entrust ourselves to him who judges justly. We’re to forgive those who sin against us. We pray for Jesus to return soon. Until then, we love.

It’s hard to know what love properly looks like. Anyone who’s seen a child with a bag of lollies knows that giving someone exactly what they want isn’t always the loving thing to do. Love must be discerning in a sinful world. But wisdom mustn’t undercut the radical nature of love that is called for. I’m free to love to extremes because of the love shown to me.

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