Love so Amazing

apple blossom

 

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God.
All the vain things that charm me the most
I sacrifice them to His blood.

Love so Amazing

When I was an older teen, I had one main goal.  I wanted to do well in ARBA national youth contests, such as achievement and royalty.  And I did pretty well; you can check out the ‘about the author’ page if you’re interested in how I did.  But as hard as I worked for those awards, and as important as they seemed, more and more I realize: they matter very little, if they matter at all.

They don’t matter.  They don’t seal my greatness for a moment, let alone a lifetime.  I went on to fail again and again and again.  For instance, that very moment I was accepting my plaque for runner-up queen, a friend in the audience stuck her tongue out at me playfully.  And without realizing I was on stage in front of hundreds of people, I playfully stuck my tongue out back at her.  That was horrible.

But it doesn’t matter.

And that’s the beauty of life in Christ.  That’s the freedom, the joy, the thrill, the peace.  Jesus matters, not me.  This is what I have come to realize, and this, only this, is worth pursuing.  This, only this, makes me happy.  I am happy!  My focus is not always where it should be, but when it is, I am glad with a gladness that casts out fear, gives me confidence in every situation, and does not let me fall into depression even when I fail.

Christ Jesus took my life into Himself, became my representative.  He took my life — its earthly success and its failure — and nailed it to his cross.  He took my sin, and that sin did to Him what sin must do: produce death.   And with His death, I died.  My life died.    Sin had done its work and was dead.

And being dead, had no more power.

And God still lived.  And now that the requirement of the law had been filled, and sin had gotten what it must get, the story of my life was over.  Then, God gave life anew.  Then, apart from the law, God gave life to the body of Christ, and through Him, to all that are in Him.  And now, through Him I live; and now, nothing but Him and His work matters to me.

And it’s free!  It’s free!  I’m not just talking.  This is a freedom that is new to me, a freedom that I did not know before.  For about two decades I tried to be a Christian.  But there was always something between me and God.  I knew I wasn’t doing it right.  I knew I wasn’t doing enough.

I worked crazy-hard to win those royalty plaques.  I was president of our state youth club.  I hosted meetings and clinics.  I wrote books.  I passed my registrar’s exams.  I spent tons of time and money on raising my rabbits.  I studied the Standard for hours and hours and hours.  I was used to doing whatever it took to get what I wanted.  And maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize that in order to get God’s favor, I had to do nothing.

It’s called love.

It’s called love.  I didn’t know what love was before. I tried for so long to earn love.  But you can’t earn love.  Love exists first, and out of love flows care and kindness.  God Loves, Christ did all for me, and thus I am safe, whether I win the awards or not.  Everything else is fading and partial, but love alone lives and is complete.  Love is all that’s worth pursuing.  Love — that is, working for the good of others no matter how they act in return — is all that matters.

I was always told that God loved me.  But, knowing my own faults, I could not believe it until I understood Christ, who took my sin and made it possible for me to be called God’s own.

We speak often of God, our caring and protective Father.  We speak of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, enlightens and empowers us. But we must first speak of Christ, our Gate, our Mediator, our Shepherd through whom we may call God our Father, and through faith in whom we may receive the Spirit.  We must first know Christ Jesus, in whom hope, gladness, and beauty flows.  Only through Him does the world make sense to me.  Apart from Him, nothing seems to matter.

But in Him, I am discovering, all matters, even the little things.

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Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That would be an offering far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my life, my soul, my all.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Romans 5: 10-11

As a postscript, I promise I am not trying to preach at anyone.  This post merely spilled out of me, out of gladness that there’s no reason to keep inside.  If you want to e-mail me about anything I’ve written here, feel free.

 

By the way – look out for showmanship tips on Sunday!