Saturday, September 20, 2014

Self-abandoning Love At The Cross

     This is precisely why Paul was so passionate in his determination to preach "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"  1 Corinthians2:2.  He had come to sense and appreciate the self-abandoning love manifested at the cross and was held its willing captive.  "The life which I now live in the flesh," he exclaimed "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"  Galatians 2:20.  To this one who had previously hated Jesus and persecuted His followers, there was no power so powerful no influence so influential, no attraction so attractive as the Son of God willingly hanging upon the cross under the curse of sin so that we who nailed Him there might have eternal life.
     I imagine Paul telling himself before each sermon he preached "If they can only be led to comprehend the love of God in Christ, surely they will not be able to withhold their hearts from Him."  Then as he stood before his hearers he would strive to articulate in the clearest, most persuasive words he could muster, the ineffable love of his Savior.  The tremendous success of Paul's ministry bears testimony to the unrivaled power of God's love to move and change the self-centered hearts of men and women.
     To comprehend the love of Christ is to apprehend its significance with the mind.  There is another word in Paul's vocabulary that makes the comprehension of divine love an active pursuit for the believer.  That word is beholding.  Notice how he uses it in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
     "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
     Beholding is the deliberate action of the mind to focus, meditate, or dwell upon a matter in order to gain a clear understanding of it.  By beholding the character of God as demonstrated in Christ, the truly personal application of His love will dawn upon the heart.  New aspects of divine mercy will shine forth.  Deep impressions of God's love and goodness will be made upon the mind, calling to life feelings of gratitude and adoration that will transcend the power of selfishness.  As we grasp the character of God's love and come to appreciate its unreserved outpouring toward us, an unswerving obedience to His law will no longer be seen as a confining duty performed to gain heaven, but as a liberating privilege for God's glory.
     We could break down the formula like this:
     *  Beholding (or focusing upon) the cross produces comprehension of God's love.
     *  Comprehension of God's love awakens gratitude in the heart.
     *  Gratitude creates responsive love.
     *  And love willingly and eagerly obeys God's will.

     (Through the coming days, weeks and years, let us focus on the cross of Christ and we will eagerly and willingly obey His will for us.  Grandma Joan) 

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