Saturday, January 28, 2017

"What is Personal Love of Christ?" - Chapter ll

It's all around us.  We can forget for a measure of time, but it's always there, lurking in a corner of our mind.

When I was a young teenager, I had a surprising amount of anxiety that I kept suppressed.  No one knew that I was terrified of my bedroom wall collapsing over my bed in the middle of the night.  (And this was before our epidemic of weekly earthquakes!)  No one knew that this roller coaster loving gal kept envisioning the entire framework of the Wildcat crashing to the ground, with me mangled in the middle.  I didn't want to acknowledge that I was a 'fraidy cat, to myself or anyone else, so I kept these thoughts of mayhem and murder stuffed way down deep.  But at night, they took on a life of their own.

To the natural mind, it is the end.  To the the reborn mind, it is just the beginning.

None of us would be here without death.  Our very lives are sustained by the deaths of others. 

Animals had to die to supply us with food, leather, and fur. 

 The plants we depend on are caught in a cycle of death, burial, resurrection, reproduction, and harvest. 

Without the heroic sacrifice of our soldiers, we would not have the freedom to sit here and blog in an open forum without fear of persecution.

 Without the deaths of the martyrs, would the Gospel ever have made it to our corner of the world? 

Without the death of the Son of God, we would be yet dead in our sins.

Last week, I asked my friend, Rebekah, what her Word for the Year is.  This is her response:

"My word this year is actually a bit of a rough one. Die. God has been teaching me that it is mine to lay down my rights, dreams, and expectations to die to myself so that I can truly live in Him."

It's kind of ironic.  My Word of the Year is Grow.  But I was wanting to grow without dying.  This is what Jesus has to say about that:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a (kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24

There has to be a death before there can be life.  Christ's death has secured our eternal life! 

 Katy is wondering if she truly loves the Lord.  She wants to, but being honest with herself is frightening.  She writes, 

"I tried once more, this morning, as it is the first day of the year, to force myself to to begin to love God.  I want to do it; I know I ought to do it; but I cannot.  Every day now I go through the form of saying something that I pass off as praying.  But I take no pleasure in it, as good people say they do..."

  Her pastor gives her hope, however that perhaps her love is a newborn thing,

" . . . something as new and as tender and perhaps as unobserved as the tiny point of green that, forcing its way through the earth, is yet unconscious of its own existence but promises a thrifty plant."

Katy is very naturally looking to her feelings to see what they can tell her.  But our feelings are so up and down.  So very changeable.  You cannot accurately judging anything by your feelings.  As Dr Cabot puts it,

"You cannot prove to yourself that you love God by examining your feelings toward Him.  They are indefinite and they fluctuate.  But just as far as you obey Him, just so far, depend upon it, you love Him."

And to get to this place of surrender and obedience requires death.  Giving up your own will and submitting to Christ's will as supreme.

It's the one thing Katy doesn't want to do.  She stubbornly professes that she much prefers to be miserable,

"Why shouldn't I brood over this sorrow?  I like to brood over it; I like to think how wretched I am; I like to have long, furious fits of crying, lying on my face on my bed."

She does not understand how her mother can be so patient in the face of crushing loss, and miserable comforters to boot.  She can not comprehend what there is to look forward to in Heaven.  She does not know her mother's secret.

"Oh, my darling Katy!  What you need is such a living, personal love of Christ to make the thought of being where He is so delightful as to fill your mind with the single thought!"

"What is 'personal love of Christ?' "

This is the question I want us to ponder this next week, what is personal love of Christ?  What does it look like?  What does it mean?  How does it change us?

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand