Devotional Thought of the Day
22 Jews want miracles for proof, and Greeks look for wisdom. 23 As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24 but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (TEV)
16 I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, 17 and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, 18 so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. 19 Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (TEV)
I venture to assure you, my dear reader, that if you and I enter into this forge of the Love of God, our souls will become better, being cleansed of some of the dross that clings to them. (1)
I watched a couple of interesting movies yesterday. The first was Good Will Hunting, and then I watched the movie that has become quite popular among Christians, God’s Not Dead.
I wrote last night on FB that both were about redemption, and that both fell short. They both dealt with brokenness, they both had characters, several of them, that needed to be healed of the darkness they dwelt in, and they both seemed to find healing for their brokenness. And both fell short. Both were incomplete.
But what surprised me is that I found that God’s not Dead seems to have fallen shorter in some ways.
Good Will Hunting isn’t a movie trying to serve as an apologetic. It is simply a John Hughes movie, done in the context of Boston. Quite realistic, even to the language. it got it when the character that is redeemed can’t be helped by the wisdom and knowledge of the world, of the professors and clinicians. It takes a broken, battered man (Robin Williams) and the unlikely average joe to bring about the promise of redemption, of meaning. And it is found, not in the career, not in the perfection of life, but in the need for real love, and the chase of the one who loves. Replace Minnie Driver with Christ, the sexual scenes with times of intimate prayer – and you have something.
But the brokenness and pain can’t be healed by anything but love.
Now to God’s not dead
Did you notice anything really conspicuous missing from the movie?
The ontological arguments were well done. The brokenness of relationships with God and between Dean Cain and his family, and Kevin Sorbo and his girlfriend, students and life in general are well done, if a bit over the stop in stereotypes. The dealing with cancer, and the band ministering to the girl with a cancerous death sentence, nice done as well.
But there is something missing.
Figure it out yet?
Where was the cross?
You can prove the existence of the Divine, of a Creator, logically and completely, and still have someone who is bound by satan, enslaved by sin, in anxiety over death.
Luther noted that this was true, as he explained the work of the Holy Spirit in the Large Catechism
For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation. (2)
We can know all about the existence of God, but without the cross, you cannot know God’s attitude is towards you. All we can realize is that you don’t deserve love, but punishment. Like the mathematicians and fancy psychologists, we cannot find a way out of our brokenness. We are so broken, so torn up, so enslaved by sin. Even forensic, scientific apologetics becomes, not a hope, but a hindrance. The victory of young Wheaton in the movie is something we can triumph in, we defended God successfully! We won the battle, even as they don’t see the victory in the back room, or out on the street, or even behind him, as the girl who lost her family but found Christ was there.
We have to have the cross, for it is there we find God’s attitude toward us, we see the incredible dimensions of His love in those rough beams, in the blood soaked body of Christ. We proclaim His death until He comes again, as Paul says we do as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the incredible love of the Eucharist. We are joined to that cross in our baptism (see Colossians 2, Romans 6, Titus 3)
it is impossible to know the love of God without seeing His work, without seeing the cross.
And it was missing.
The relationship? It was a minor secondary thing compared to the victory. Compared to the people who came to “know” about God by deciding God’s case.
As if we could comprehend His ways, understand His actions simply by deducing there is a God.
We have to know there is a God who loves us……who loves us enough to die for us.
Yes, God’s not dead, but He did die….
Get to know Him, walk with Him, it is why He died.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 203-204). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.Part II Of the Creed: Article III