Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Found in Him Chapter 4: He Loves Us In The Details
Do you have a favorite coffee mug or tea cup? What do you like about it?
Almost everyone at Bible study does. Lissa loves hers because its a “sister” mug, just like the one each of her sisters has. Julia’s favorite reminds her of the place and day where she bought it. Jody just loves the way her #1 coffee cup feels in her hands. It’s exactly the right size and shape.
All I can say is this. When my husband brings me a cup of coffee–in my favorite cup–it means a lot. It shows me he paid attention to the details of my preferences and took the time to find that cup in the cupboard. It means even more if he does it after I have nagged him about taking out the trash. It shows me that he loves me in the details…
…even when I’m at my worst.
God Loves Sinners
If you’re a Christian, you believe that God loves sinners. If I were to ask you, “How does God show his love for sinners?” You would raise your hand and answer, “By sending his Son to die for us.” Right answer. You get an “A” on the test. The cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate display of God’s love for sinners.
We know this, but we have trouble experiencing it, feeling it. That’s where the life of Jesus is so helpful. Not just at his death, but during his earthly life Jesus makes visible God’s love for sinners. He loves them in the details. Even when they were at their worst.
Chapter 4 of Found in Him gives us three scenes from the last few months of Jesus’ life: His transfiguration, the dinner at Lazarus’ house, and the triumphal entry. In each Elyse shows us how Jesus loves particular sinners in particular ways.
I wonder how many times Jesus invited his disciples to come away with him and pray. Probably more often than is recorded in the gospels. Imagine you are one of the three, hiking up the mountain that day. Stopping to drink from a stream along the way. Arriving at the peak, and flopping down on the grass between boulders. Jesus walks away a few paces and stands. Raising his hands to heaven, he begins addressing the Father. (Luke 9:28-36)
You’ve heard him pray before, but you’re still amazed. How can he talk to God like that? You pay attention for a while, trying to learn, but eventually the combination of sun, insect sounds, and fatigue from the hike win. You drowse and then go out.
A little later voices mix with your dream and you emerge from the depths. Wait. Who’s that talking with Jesus? You rub your eyes. There are three men now, and one of them is glowing white, like he’s on fire. Jesus? Yes! Just then you hear him address one of the others. Elijah? Oh my. And who? Moses???
Suddenly wide awake you see Peter leap to his feet and propose some kind of plan to take advantage of the moment. Curse him! You think. Why does he always beat me to the punch? Who does he think he is, the #1 disciple or something?
Right about then a glowing cloud descends on the clearing and a Voice interrupts Peter, shaking the ground, even the very air.
“This is my Son, my chosen One. Listen to him!”
You pass out for a moment. You’re undone. What were you thinking? Envying Peter? Trying to figure out a way to trump him? Woe is me! You lay plastered to the ground with fear and shame.
Suddenly you feel a hand, light on your shoulder. A voice, gentle, familiar, “Get up now. You don’t need to be afraid.” It’s Jesus. All by himself. No longer glowing.
You scramble to your feet, shaking off the terrors. He loves me. I sure don’t deserve it, but he loves me. I’m not sure what to make of him now. But he loves me.
Love sinners? Me?
In our small group we talked about where we saw ourselves in each story. Nothing shows off Jesus’ love more than our lack of it. Here’s what we might have said:
- Mary, what are you doing with that perfume? Isn’t that a little over the top?!
- Peter, you make me feel so much better about myself!
- Hosanna in the highest! Where’s the party and what are they serving for dinner?!
But Jesus didn’t say those things. That’s because he loves sinners…and turns them into saints!