Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Drab Cloak of Love

My life is forfeit. The only thing God considers valuable is that which is of Himself. God is love. Love is what God values. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn. 3:16). This is the only fellowship with Him: daily participating in His death and life. John says that if we love (meaning practical action), our hearts will be at rest before God and He will do whatever we ask (1 Jn. 3:18-23). Self-sacrifice is the condition on God’s absolute favor in prayer, for it is only then that we are in union with Him and with His will; it is only then when we are living for His purpose; it is only then He can give to us all things without restraint. John also says that it is only when we love practically, when we obey God’s command to love, that we are remaining in Him, for, again, such love is God’s very nature (1 Jn. 3:24). It is not those who call Him Lord who remain in love; it is not those who cast out demons or prophesy; it is not those who have all knowledge or give all they have to the poor or die as martyrs (Matt. 7:21-23; 1 Cor. 13:1-3). It is only those who love, whose bodies are given over without reservation to Him that, through them, He might love those around them. About this, we must think very mundanely. It is the drab, moment by moment inconveniences, favors, and requests placed before us by our fellow men that are the very test of love. It is, as John says, simply seeing our brother in his day to day needs (1 Jn. 3:17). How do we respond? Can we prefer ourselves, our own comfort, our own convenience, even in small things, and claim that God lives in us? It is in the drab cloak of the daily and the mundane that God comes to us and asks for food, for clothing, for sanctuary; it is in our very own local prisons and hospitals that God waits to be visited; it is in the drab cloak of what is, to us, so ordinary and habitual, that God lies waiting for our hard hearts to perceive what is right under our noses and needs attention, love, concern (Matt. 25:35, 36). It is in the things that, because of their very ordinariness, offend our arrogant selves, that God waits to exalt those that humble themselves out of conscience toward Him. Help me Jesus. The Bible says you laid down your life. The sense is that you placed yourself, your life, took your hands off of it, lost it, completely gave up control of it, turned your back on it and walked away. To this we are called and must respond. Outside of this there is no fellowship with you, no eternal life. Outside of this we deceive ourselves in powerless, hollow religion. Outside of this there is no value, no purpose, no reality, no truth. I want you to possess me in truth. I want that my body should be given over to you each moment, lost to myself, given to you and others for whatever purpose—great or mundane—that you and circumstance require. Teach me your ways. Test me and know my wicked thoughts and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23, 24).


Bryan Halferty said...

Powerful stuff man. The image of Christ turning from his life and walking away is striking. Thank you.

catholver said...

Interesting. I was talking with a friend of mine at a support group I went to last week, and we were talking about how in order to recieve anything (healing, abundance, love, ect) in the capacity we desire from God, it requires that we daily lay our lives down before him. We slide by with the every day mundane and want Gods healing and deliverance, but are content to sit and wine about our situations. Since my conversation with people that night I have been reading in Joel 2:12 "Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn AND KEEP ON COMING to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hinderance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored]. (zondervan amplified)
I was reading again tonight and the Lord lead me back to your blog, and when I read this one it tied in with so many things that I have been mulling over this past week. We desire so many things from God and all God asks in return is that we love him and our neighbor, that we lay our meaningless lives before him so that He can mold us. When we say test me, teach me, mold me, I don't think we realize that it is only in the moments we actually let him that he restores us. And it is only when we are restored that we can love others through the everyday and live for Him as he has called us to. It was good to be reminded that when I take my hands off my life, all the things I have been complaining to God about, all the prayers I have prayed are in His hands. I ran across Joel 2:25,26 and I thought it summed up what God's promises are for us when we truely let go and turn our lives soley over to him. "And I will restore (or replace) for you the years that the locust have eaten.....And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord who has dealt wonderously with you...".
Thanks for posting your thoughts and revelations, look forward to more! :) Catherine