Monday, December 13, 2010

The Wisdom of Love

Jesus our King is both an exalted, mighty Judge and the Lamb that was slain. And it is this Christ in both of these realities that loves His people. This is a wedding feast, a love feast in which this Christ as both sacrificial victim and righteous judge offers Himself to His people. This is your husband, your God, your King. And this means that both of these realities are offered in the love of Christ. As we grow in the love of Christ, we ought to grow up into both slaves who die and kings who reign. We have been made priests and kings to God our Father. And we really must hold both of these together. The temptation is always to veer in one direction or the other. In our flesh everyone wants authority and power and judgment, but without the cross, we quickly turn authority into oppression and tyranny. When God gave Israel the wine of His love, they repeatedly abused it. Rather than receiving His love and loving Him in return, they got drunk and worshiped other gods and made themselves into gods who oppressed the poor and the needy. The other temptation is to see the human tendency to mess this up, and veer off into defeatists. We are poor, homely slaves who screw everything up, and we wallow around in our weakness and inability. But Jesus didn’t become a servant so that He could lose. He humbled Himself so that He might be exalted. He died so that He might be raised. He became a slave so that He might become the King. And so the point is that if we would judge rightly, if we would execute justice for the orphan and the widow. If we would discipline our children in righteousness and love our spouses rightly, we must hold these two realities together. But how can we do that? The answer is love. And that can sound trite and shallow and canned. Everybody says all you need is love. But God says that the single greatest thing that we can do is love Him with all that we are and love our neighbors as ourselves. Faith and hope are really important but the greatest of these is love. Not touchy-feely fuzzies, whatever-makes-me-feel-good love, but death and resurrection love. The love for our Savior crucified for our sins. The love that dies for the ungodly, the weak, the poor, the undeserving. Love that becomes a servant of all for the glory of the Lord of all. Love as fierce as death. In that love, which we celebrate here, Christ is manifested as both servant and king, slave and lord, and when we embrace that love, when we respond to that love, that love teaches us wisdom, and we grow up into priests and kings. But that’s the key, putting down all your excuses, all your distractions, all your theological categories, all your virtues, all your sins, everything, and crying out with the psalmist: "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." And so here you are, and your Lord gives Himself to you. He loves you, and welcomes you now.

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