John 9:40–41 (CEV) — When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?” 41 Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”
And what decides it is your love. “In the twilight of our lives, we will be judged on how we have loved”, says John of the Cross, one of the great Christian mystics and lovers. From the beginning to the end, love is the guiding thread that leads us through all the labyrinths of time and life and history.
At the end, when we look into the eyes of our divine Lover, we shall see ourselves in totality, we shall see ourselves as He saw us and designed us from the beginning. At the end we shall touch the beginning. We shall hear Him sing to us something like the popular songwriter Dan Fogelberg’s lovely song “Longer”:
Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean,
Higher than any tree ever grew,
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens,
I’ve been in love with you.
Jesus says something very much like this: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ” (Mt 25:34).
Some avoid seeing it by locking onto tradition. Others by keeping busy working in the mission field. Others dive deep into academic approaches to theology. Some dive deep into doing things, into being a workaholic, as if over-using the talents of God is pleasing to Him.
I think all of these pursuits allow us to avoid actually interacting with God, much as Israel did at Sinai when they pleased that God speak through Moses. This is the modern version of Phariseeism – avoiding God.
I am not sure why we are afraid to explore the width and length, the height and depth of the love of God, but we are! We don’t want to know that God passionately loves us, that He desires an intimate relationship with us. We scoff at such, saying it sounds to sexual or even to effeminate. And we are less likely to talk and meditate on this love that 9 guys are to sit down and watch a Hallmark movie together!
So we remain blind to the immense love of God. We know all about Him, we can defend His existence, but like the Pharisees standing in the presence of the Lord God Almighty, we remain blind.
We are unable to sit and meditate on the love of God – because we are afraid of that love.
Read that line again…
Kreeft’s words get to the heart of the matter. They are glorious to read, yet as glorious as they are, they are challenging.
To look into Jesus’ eyes, and see how He sees us?
To see the depth of love that He has for us when we struggle to know who we really are?.
It is time to stop all that…
It is time to be still, and let your eyes be opened and see that He is God – and that he loves YOU! Amen!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 135.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 But Moses said, “No, LORD, don’t send me. I have never been a good speaker, and I haven’t become one since you began to speak to me. I am a poor speaker, slow and hesitant.”
11 The LORD said to him, “Who gives man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? It is I, the LORD. 12 Now, go! I will help you to speak, and I will tell you what to say.”
13 But Moses answered, “No, Lord, please send someone else.” Ex 4:10–13 TEV
22 “You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 “You will indeed drink from my cup,” Jesus told them, “but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those for whom my Father has prepared them.” Mt 20:22–23 TEV
We cannot proclaim Christ’s promises to ourselves; we cannot store them away safely on a computer disk or in a safety deposit box for later reference. We need the word to come from outside of us so that it may reign over us. Someone must wash us, someone must feed us, someone must speak an inescapable and unconditional word of absolution, and in doing so these someones become Christ for us. The worldly spirituality of Luther with its emphasis on vocation and service to the neighbor is also a thoroughly churchly spirituality. We are called to venture forth on our individual paths of discipleship as members of a redeemed people, the very body of Christ.
There is no way for the Christian to avoid the brokenness in life.
We may try to hide it. We may try to justify it in our hearts and minds, yet our soul will still feel the brokenness.
We may try to run from it, and to be honest, this week, there have been times I wish I could have.
We encounter brokenness in each day, in each relationship, and even if we could isolate ourselves from the world, lock ourselves up in some monastery, we would still be crushed by our own brokenness.
So too often we from this aspect of brokenness to that one. From this shattered place to that, never having found the rest we need, never dreaming that there could be a way to see all of life healed, never seeing life restored.
Moses ran from where he encountered the greatest point of brokennes in his life. Everything he was. up to that point, disappeared in a moment of rage. And so he ran, rather than face his brokenness. God sends him back, not to deal with his own, but to help others deal with theirs. To deliver them from slavery, not the physical kind primarily, but the spiritual kind.
Moses goes back to help people realize that God isn’t distant, but that He is here. That God loves them, that He wants a relationship with them where He can love and care for them. (That is why Christ came as well!) And Moses, broken, afraid, more than willing to let someone else bear the burden, Moses would let someone else address the sin and shame.
God wouldn’t let him, but God also didn’t let him wander back alone. He never does.
We are meant to see people healed and find hope in the community. For even as Moses ministers to Pharoah and Israel, Aaron will minister to Moses, serving him as his mouthpiece, being his right hand, and Aaron does what Moses cannot do for himself. They were Christ for each other, as we need to be.
That can get pretty messy, as we, sent by Christ in his stead ( and yet paradoxically with Him) encounter their brokenness. As we share the grace they need, speaking absolution, binding their wounds, helping them have hope. Them helping us by serving us as Christ would. This interchange can get extraordinarily painful, as we sacrifice our own comfort, our own illusion of peace in order to encounter the brokenness. And even then, God provides real peace – that passes our understanding, meeting us in the midst of soul-wrenching pain that brokenness causes.
It takes confidence in God to reveal your own brokenness, to confess is and let yourself It takes confidence to go, and embrace those who are broken, to reach out and give them the proof of God’s healing them, the hope of the day when there will be no more sorrow, no more tears. When brokenness and the spiritual death it threatens is swallowed up in the greatest of victories.
This is what we hold onto, this hope of the new day coming. The day the church holds onto each other until, as we minister to each other, and remind each other of the love of Christ.
Lord, help us neither hide our brokenness or run from it, or the brokenness of those around us. But let us begin to minister to each other, to be Your hands, Your feet, Your mouthpieces, even as You minister to us through others. AMEN!
Strohl, J. E. (2007). General Introduction. In P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey (Eds.), P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey (Trans.), Luther’s Spirituality (p. xxx). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.