Extravagant Love

The word Extravagant means to exceed the limits of reason or necessity.

That is the kind of love Jesus exhibits. Jesus didn’t need a throne; he had one already. Jesus didn’t need men. Who needs broken clay jars? Jesus has authority over everything; in Him everything that is, was made. God made man in His own image and Jesus is jealous enough for even the image of God, that He could not allow the dishonor of the fall to stand. He wanted God’s creation to fulfill its creation purpose; to live in harmony worshiping God.

So Jesus took on flesh; the infinite took on the limits of creation. The king became a carpenter’s son. He slept in open boats and ate meals. He argued with self-righteous hypocrites and endured the confused bombastic yapping of His apostles.

The Maker let His creation slap him, tear His beard out and nail iron into His flesh. Iron, which was made in and through Jesus, Jesus allowed to be driven through the flesh He didn’t need, to die a death we caused, to win us back to a Father we rejected.

This is a love that exceeds the limits of reason and necessity.

And the Backs of the Proud will be Broken

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

From Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Lion of Judah

Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a symbo...
Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a symbol in Abyssinia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A god that does not

nor cares to

walk upon the shore of a vast sea,

breathing in the salty air,

relishing what he himself

made

Is not worth a prayer

 

A god who does not buckle on

scabbard and mail

to go before his children

to seek his enemies upon the field,

foes for the slaughter,

is not worth a lighted candle

 

A god who does not

stand at the tomb

of him whom he loved

and weep

is worth no devotion of any kind

 

A god who does not taste

or breath or hate

who does not curse or love

or serve, nor cares to

is a god worth mere disdain

no more than mockery

 

is no God at all.

The Liturgy of Covenant Renewal worship

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting...
Landscape with Noah’s Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leviticus 1:1-9 ESV “The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron‘s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”

  1. Call to Worship: God calls the worshiper to draw near. In response to God’s call the worshiper comes with the appropriate animal. Lev. (1:1-2).
  2. Consecration: God moves the priests to cut up the animal, making it fit to ascend the altar into God’s fiery presence. The worshiper/animal must not only die, but it is necessary that he be properly prepared for God’s holy presence. (Lev. 1:6-7)
  3. Commissioning: Once the sacrifice is over, Yahweh sends the worshiper out renewed and empowered for service in the kingdom. (Num. 6:22-27).

There are various ways in which this can be expressed. Jesus Christ fulfills and established the genuine meaning and practice of sacrifice and offering. Sacrificial images and rites are part of the central core of the biblical revelation of the personal relations between God and man (from Gen. 3:21 through Rev. 21:22-27). The way of sacrifice, therefore, transcends the Mosaic institution of animal sacrifice. Better yet, the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament are not merely ad hoc arrangements,  but rather are grounded in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sacrifice reveals something of the nature of what it meant for God to be personal (Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to one another sacrificially).

In the New Testament the old animal sacrificial typology is fulfilled by Christ and in the believer who is united to Christ by faith. In union with Christ – who offered Himself as the sacrifice – we not only have the penalty for sin removed, but we are also being made in acceptable sacrifice by faith. The promise is that if we offer ourselves to the Father through Christ in the Spirit we will become what God has destined us for – men and women remade in the image of God.

Practicing Affirmation

Our Lord Jesus Christ
Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zechariah 8:16 “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.”

In your heart of hearts, what do you long to hear God say, once you’ve arrived at the end of your race? Jesus taught that at the final judgment God’s children will receive affirmation that their faith was not in vain when the Father pronounces, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” This is good news. We’ll know that we have run our race well. But it is a long road to the end. We have to wait and live out our faith with fear and trembling.

Presently, we have God’s Spirit, which affirms in our hearts and minds the truth of who we are in Christ, but this is not all. We are commanded to speak the truth in Love and we often think this only means telling people the ugly truth. But God commands us to build one another up with our judgments.

Ephesians 4:15 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Zechariah 7:9“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,”

God is a God of judgment. God pronounces judgment on everything that pleases him and displeases Him. Judgment is not merely a negative action. In our modern Christian culture, judgment as become a purely adverse term. But acquittal is a judgment, not guilty is a judgment, innocent is a judgment and righteous is a judgment. Judgment can be positive. God’s judgment is either condemnation of behavior that is contrary to Him or affirmation that people are glorifying Him and should continue in the direction they are going. Continue reading “Practicing Affirmation”

Two Swords are enough for the Prince of Peace

God requires his children to be long suffering and patient. It is not righteous to seek vengeance, especially for minuscule affronts that have more to do with vanity, like insulting speech, but it is also not righteous to stand idly by while people assault your wife, oppress sojourners or victimize the fatherless, the widow and the marginalized. Often there is confusion about what God requires of us in the New Covenant. Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace, and yet He says he comes with a sword.

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Ultimately, in the cosmic war between God and His enemies, the weapons of our warfare  are not carnal, for we fight against the principalities and powers of the air. Yet, Christ did not rebuke his apostles for having swords. He did rebuke them for how and why they used them. Converted Centurions were not told to lay down their weapons. Jesus instigates a war within us against sin, while declaring peace between God and ourselves. Jesus provides peace between the nations, but peace that comes at the culmination of the antithesis. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Continue reading “Two Swords are enough for the Prince of Peace”

Story as Catechism

Part 1: Blank Canvases

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.” – G.K Chesterton

If God were to give you a series of blank canvases and instruct you to fill them with images of how you see the world in light of his blessings, what would you paint? How? Would you plan it out? Would you learn how to draw so your trees were trees?

What if He told you these panels would hang in your house in heaven? Your walls will not adorn Rembrandts or Van Gogh’s, but your own works. What kind of care would you take?

Continue reading “Story as Catechism”