Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If you loved me, then you would…

From Mockingbird blog:

This short and beautiful reflection comes from Andrew Pearson.

And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”  So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.  And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days.  You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so I will also be to you.”  For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.  Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their kin, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.   Hosea 3:1-5

Hosea the prophet was called to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Though you might be willing to understand your lover’s love for “cakes of raisins,” no one really plans or wishes to marry someone who had proven to be unfaithful, and certainly no one would want to marry someone who once had been unfaithful, and continued to be so.

Hosea’s marriage to Gomer illustrates God’s relationship to an unfaithful Israel.  In spite of the fact that Gomer is an adulteress, she is ransomed by Hosea, showing God’s love for his people in the face of their unfaithfulness.  The Lord’s love for Israel remains untethered to any sinful behavior breaking its bonds.  God is faithful despite the ongoing reality that they are still unfaithful.

This message is often lost in churches today.  Often we hear, “If you behave yourself, then God, who loves you, will bless you.  He chose you because he sees great potential in who you could be.”  And why shouldn’t we believe this?  This is how many of our relationships work.  We often say to our spouses or family members, “If you loved me, then you would….”

But this is not how God operates.  God knows you are a conditionally bought-and-sold human being, and still Jesus’ death on the cross is the final declarative statement that God’s love for you is unconditional.  As it is said, “There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.”  It is not a love that forgives once or any number of times, but is timeless and unremitting.  This is the love that brings redemption, even to those of us who often feel like Gomer.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Leading me to humility, not to humiliation.

A Prayer about the Ultimate Insanity of Despising God’s Kindness

     Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4 
Heavenly Father, I’ve seen many crazy things in my life and I’ve certainly done my share of crazy things. But the most certifiably insane thing I do is to show contempt for the riches of your kindness, tolerance, and patience for me in Jesus. I do this when I dig my heels in and resist following your kindness into fresh repentance.
When I refuse to humble myself—when I won’t acknowledge the ways I love poorly and act out immaturely—when I hold on to attitudes and actions that rob me of joy, and you of glory, that is insanity. Showing contempt for your kindness is quintessential and ultimate craziness!
Father, I praise you today for being undaunted—for being immeasurably affluent in the currency of kindness, tolerance, and patience. There’s no economic downturn in heaven—never has been, never will be. But there’s nothing in me that assumes the right to any of your loving ways. It’s only because Jesus willingly endured the judgment we deserve that I’m in a position to be dealt with so mercifully and graciously.
Father, thank you that you’re leading me to humility, not to humiliation; to shelter, not to shame; to repentance, not to penance. Indeed, the GPS of the gospel will never direct us to a destination of harm, but only to a place of greater freedom in Christ; for when we repent, we’re not the one making promises to change our hearts—you are. Only you can change us, and you are changing us, for you’ve covenanted to do so. That’s what the gospel is all about. When we repent, we simply collapse upon Jesus, once again, as our righteousness, our holiness, and our sure hope of a new and changed heart.
So this morning, kind Father, I repent. I repent of not trusting that you are at work in my current irritating circumstances. I’ve looked at the weaknesses of others more than I’ve kept my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s been easier to gossip than to pray. I’ve been moping and plotting like an orphan rather than rejoicing and trusting as a beloved son.
I’ve been more preoccupied with the ways of broken men than thrilled with the occupied throne of heaven. I’ve acted as though I care more about Jesus’ church than he does. That is certifiably insane. I repent. Because the gospel is true and you are so kind, I repent. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.