Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love is a Messy Business

As NT Wright says, "The gospel is a 'new and strange hope' not a slight variation on one already well known." Most of us are used to being judged and approved based on how we perform in one area of our life or another. So when we hear the gospel many of us can't actually hear it. I think that many times what we get when we are hearing the stories of Jesus and the cross and resurrection is the news that if we screw up our religious duties that God will give us some extra forgiveness. After all, God is a God of love, so why shouldn't he forgive our sins? But that makes the good news that God is lenient, that he really doesn't care about sin as much as we thought he did. Whew, what a relief.

But in that scheme we are still working for our own salvation and we may be doing it through something as subtle as "having it all together." If I just have a balanced life, then I know I'll be ok. Then I'll know that my past doesn't control me. So we maintain control over our circumstances. Perhaps the most damning savior of all is making "balance" the Lord of your life. "Everything in moderation," is the motto, and the feeling is that I will be ruled by nothing. And indeed the man who makes balance and moderation his Lord will find that he must eventually sacrifice the greatest things for balance, because as we all know, love is too messy a business for someone who has got it all together.

The real reason that Balance is such a deadly slave master is that it keeps you from the one Master who can truly set you free. Balance tells us not to get to crazy about god. Don't go too far with it. Keep it in perspective. But what is the proper perspective of a God who is too large to comprehend? The only appropriate response is awe. Followed by worship. Followed by passionate devotion. And the safety of God is a dangerous safety, yes. The safety you find in a lover's arms who is wild and unpredictable. It is the safety of giving yourself completely to a Master who loved you so much that he died for you. If you worship Balance and you can't keep your life together will Balance forgive you? If you have perfect Balance in your life will you then be truly fulfilled? Jesus is the Master who dares you to soar and fail, because he forgives. And when you catch him, he fulfills you completely. You can't earn him, only discover him, and sell everything to gain him.

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