Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The scarred God

I've just started trying to get to grips with 2 Corinthians - or rather, to understand it more so that it grips me. Listening to Mark Dever on it, he spoke of how the gospel completely reprogrammes our concept of God - a God who revealed Himself in weakness, rather than wow-ing us with how impressive He is. Dever quoted a poem of Edward Shillito (1872-1948), a British Free Church minister in time of war:
Jesus of the Scars

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have no fear;
Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

It speaks powerfully of the goodness of the scarred God. Also reminded me of a song of Martyn Joseph about the 'strange way' of the cross, which culminates in the line: "So unlike the Holy to end up full of holes." There is no truth and no hope in the generic impersonal power of the universe assumed to be the subject of the word God. There is only truth and hope in the God who was crucified and resurrected, and bears the scars to this day.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Sin allergy

This past few weeks, hayfever has been rather a pain. A constant irritant, disrupting my life. Interrupting social situations, stopping me from enjoying the lovely weather, depriving me of sleep, impeding my sight.

So it is for many, I'm sure - enough of the catalogue of moans! So I thought, how can I not waste my hayfever? It's such a small thing, in the scale of things: such a very small part of the frustration to which this world is subject. But if the irritation of hayfever is such a very small part of the curse on our sinfulness, and yet disrupts my life so much, how is it that the sin itself which is at root, affects me so little?

So my hayfever prayer is that the Holy Spirit would give me a sin-allergy.
That every morning as I wake I would be aware of the suffocating nature of sin, so that rather than trying to breathe its air...
That I would turn to Christ as quickly as I down an antihistamine, and meditate on his word more automatically than I reach for the tissue-box.
That I would constantly be irritated by my sin, that it would be painful to me.
That I would go out of my way to avoid sin being stirred up in me.
That I would be aware of how sin spoils relationships far more than hayfever interrupts social engagement.
That my sight would not be blearied or blinkered by sin, but by the light of God's word I'd see the world truly.

In other words, that as my Father is so pure he can't look passively on evil, so I would be allergic to sin. As I look forward to my Father recreating the world no longer subject to frustration, so I look to him to purify me from the roots of that frustration - my refusal of his way.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. [1 John 3.1-3]
Pray that I wouldn't waste my hayfever, but that it would be a reminder of the sinfulness of sin, and the righteousness of Christ, accomplished for us and still to be applied to all creation. That I would be allergic to sin.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Incorrigibly plural

Snow, Louis Macneice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.