Friday, March 26, 2010

God's favorite things

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..."

What does God enjoy doing for fun and pleasure? Does He sit on the pew and enjoy the pipe organ concert, or enjoy the breeze when people wave their arms in worship? Does He admire the woodwork or majestic stained glass in the church? Is He excited about the large-denomination bills in the offering plate?

Now that it’s spring, perhaps one of God’s pastimes is coaxing baby animals to open their eyes and take first steps, or perhaps teasing gorgeous flowers from their buds. The wisteria has become a riot of heavy flower spikes, whose scent competes with jasmine and citrus blossoms for an intoxication of the senses. The bees and hummingbirds are hovering in the blooming trees, and the finches and mockingbirds are building nests in the thickets of roses and bougainvillea.

Spring is a time of transformation. Seeds miraculously swell and send tiny green buds through the soil. Eggs hatch, and baby birds open beaks larger than their bodies. Worms, caterpillars, and insects are metamorphosed into completely different creatures than one might expect. Mammals are born heartbreakingly cute.

What is not to enjoy about spring? And yet, it’s not God’s creative genius and artistry that gives Him the most pleasure.

Why did you have children? To prop up your feet, do your chores, bring you meals and gifts of money, sing to you? Well, if those were your reasons, you already know how that expectation turned out! You had children because you had love to give, and experience and heritage to pass on. You loved your child before you saw it draw its first breath. You loved that little stinker (or angel) more as time went on, for every reason and no reason. And if a parent can love that way, how much more does our Father in heaven love?

God’s favorite thing is you. He loves to think of you. And plan for you. And do for you. (By “you,” I mean each of us individually, not collectively. So insert your own “me” pronoun as you read on. Take ownership of God’s love for you!)

God’s favorite activity, what gives Him the greatest joy, is loving you and celebrating you. (Luke 15:4-10, The Message.)

4-7"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

8-10"Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she'll call her friends and neighbors: 'Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!' Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God."

He lived and died for you. He rose for you. He has prepared a life plan for you, complete with joy and grief, partings and reunions, family and strangers, ease and rough going. When you leave Him in the dust, He watches anxiously for you and breaks into a run to meet you at the first hint of your turning. His entire ambition is to bring you back to His immediate presence, where He, Emmanuel, will personally wipe away all your tears and glorify you. He wants to revel in you, ruffle your hair, put His arms around you, and kick up heels and dance for joy. The thought of you—and me—is what makes God’s heart beat faster. He’s that personal, that intimate!

This is a shocking concept because we tend to think that "God so loved the world" (the world as in, everybody in a vast blob). But God loved this entire creation of individuals, from when time began for our ancestors, now, and into future eternity.

We’ve been taught to think of others before self, and rightly so. When we put others first in our esteem, and have that sense of communion and unity in Christ, we are obeying the commandment of God to love the Lord with all our hearts and minds and souls, and to love others—as ourselves.

So to review: we are to love the Lord with all we are and have, and to love others the same way, and to love ourselves as we love God and others.

About twelve hundred years before Christ’s birth, the Lord brought about the redemption of his chosen people—culminating in the Passover celebration at the first full moon after the spring equinox. Passed over for death, their resurrection to newness of life meant that they walked out of their Egyptian tomb and religion of death, under a full moon, balmy breezes carrying spring flower perfumes, led by a pillar of cloud and fire.

When the Passover Lamb was slain on that Friday 1200 years later, the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom. So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The ‘curtain’ into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25, The Message.

As we learn to see others with God’s loving eyes, we will recognize in ourselves what God has always seen, from eternity past—that the one person He died for was you. He didn’t die for a planet of rock and water or a vast blob of people. He died for me, an extremely flawed person that He created in His own image to just love. And He died for many billions of individuals who were just as undeserving as I am.

Make it personal. Jesus did! Say to one friend, one family member, one co-worker, that you love them. Say it on Easter weekend and the days following. And when they respond with surprise and wonder, just think what Jesus is doing: rejoicing with the angels—over you. Not a planet of anonymous, faceless people. You. His greatest joy and most valuable treasure is you. You cannot be replaced. He doesn’t want to spend eternity without you, so He’s committed every resource to make sure your salvation is assured.

That is good news. That is the gospel. Go tell one person. It’s not a sermon series with a baptismal goal at the end. It’s just love. But it will make you an evangelist, a messenger of good news. And it will bear fruit!

2 comments:

  1. You have such a great talent with words. Thank you for edifying us with your writing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have magic words and such encouragement! I love reading anything you write! Susie Sutherland

    ReplyDelete

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