Sunday, 15 June 2008

'til Love Returns

"'That there is brokenness,' he says quietly. 'That this world is brokenness. But within brokenness is the Unbreakable Name. How the whole earth groans 'til Love returns.'" (Joy Kogawa, Obasan, 1981)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Looking for Love

Evangelical Christians commonly offer Christ to mankind as a nostrum to cure their ills, a way out of their troubles, a quick and easy means to the achievement of personal ends... What we do is precisely what a good salesman does when he presents the excellence of his product as compared with that of his closest competitor. The customer chooses the better of the two, as who would not? But the weakness of the whole salesmanship technique is apparent: the idea of selfish gain is present in the whole transaction. (A.W. Tozer)

The sales technique works - there are many who follow the Christ in hope of some 'blessing'. They will find in the end that they have purchased an empty package. Unless what we seek is a freedom from that driving selfishness; unless we first find that ugliness destroying all that is beautiful and true in us, we may spend a lifetime steeped in Christian culture and church work, but we will neither seek nor find the only One who can and will set us free.

Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from me, all you evildoers.’ Luke 13:25-27

But to the sad truth that some are wrong about their acceptability to God, the Bible adds a promise that those accepted are not, as some assume, limited to the western world:

...And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:29)

We are not acceptable to God on the basis of our piety, but on the basis of our reaching for his mercy:

[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)