Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Scandal of the Gospel

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” --Tim Keller

The love of God is a scandal.

It is so scandalous, that we have to tame it. We rarely see God's love for the raw, unbridled, passion that it is--because it's so crazy huge, it makes us uncomfortable. Instead, we pick and choose the images of God's love that are palatable: Children on Jesus' lap, the Father embracing the prodigal son, the mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings.

But often God uses the imagery of a romantic lover to describe His love for us. Back to Ezekiel 16:
“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God. “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil."
 God claims us as His bride,...covers us with His love,.. and then he cleans us up. Resist the urge to gloss over the beauty (and akwardness) of these images. This is how God loves.

We would do it the other way around! We would want someone to get their act together, to clean themselves up before we showered our love on them. We might be willing to help with the process, but we certainly would want to see some sign of goodness, or righteousness, or beauty BEFORE we showered another with our love.

Not God.

He covers our nakedness.

He promises His faithfulness.

He makes us His own.

And then, with gentleness, he bathes us.

This isn't the angry scrub-brush type of bath that a mother gives to a wayward child. This is the soft caress of a wash-cloth in the hand of a tender lover.

This is how God loves us.

And we can' take it! Ezekiel goes on to describe how the beautiful bride becomes a whore. She takes all the gifts that God has bestowed upon her, and she uses them to attract other lovers. Rather than being deeply satisfied, she rejects His love.

How could she? How dare she?

And yet, I, too, am guilty.

The problem, I think, is this: When I fail to receive the love of God for the passionate, jealous, intense love that it is, I will look for love in other places. When I diminish God's love to a grandfatherly pat on the head, it will never satisfy my deepest yearnings.

But when I learn to receive this hurricaine of God's love, it changes everything.

God loves so deeply, so purely, so perfectly, that His love not only fills my every longing, but it overflows from me onto a lost and hurting world. It is more than I can contain, and so I spread it around liberally...and in so doing, I enter into the scandal myself.

Yes, I'm learning to love scandalously.

When was the last time you poured out love on someone so undeserving that those around you questioned your judgement? When was the last time you gave so generously that your accountant accused you of being reckless? Have you ever had a house guest that made your neighbors worry about the safety of your children?

We are the objects of a scandalous love. And when we finally get that, we are transformed into scandalous lovers ourselves.

THIS is the Gospel.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed your posts on this theme of Ezekiel Ch. 16. It is one of my favorite passages of Scripture because of how it shows just how much He loves us. It is incomprehensible .. and you so aptly put it, we are uncomfortable with it. Oh, so very true. Well said, Jenn. I really appreciate your thoughts here. God is working in my heart on this very theme but more in the area of His grace and just what that means to the believer. So good!!! God bless you and yours! Love, Cassy