August 2, 2020
Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Note in today’s text the progression from trusting the Lord to taking delight in him. If depending on God is a turning point in the journey, delight is one of the final destinations. To delight in someone is to love them from a deep place of satisfaction with and in them. So often, the life hid with Christ in God gets pitched as a duty bound life characterized by rigorous discipline to a never ending list of spiritual practices and social responsibilities. That’s not it. Jesus teaches us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, or as The Message Translation renders it, a life characterized by the “unforced rhythms of grace.” (See Matthew 11). Delight is one of those unforced rhythms.
The core calling and commitment of the followers of Jesus is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-38. Again, this can become something of a job description complete with a list of commitments, duties and responsibilities.
Do we believe this is the way God looks upon us, as a series of commitments, duties and responsibilities he must manage? No. God takes great delight in his children. Are there commitments, duties and responsibilities? Sure, but that is to look at the relationship from outside of it. Delight is the reality of the relationship from the inside. To love someone is to be on the inside of the relationship and to take great delight in them. We begin by delighting in what he has done for us. We grow to delight in God for what he does in us. We mature to delight in God for what he does through us. We arrive finally to delight in God for the sheer delight of who he is.
If delighting in God is the source of our joy, then our becoming devoted to one another is the source of God’s joy. If the journey of the awakening begins with John 3:16: For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life,” it finds its fulfillment in 1 John 3:16. “This is how we know what love is,” the Apostle teaches us, “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, therefore we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (1 John 3:16)
Remember the greatest command about loving God with all we have? Then there was the rest of it about loving your neighbor as yourself. This is what it means to be an awakened person—one who is growing in an ever deepening experience of being loved by God (which is the freedom to love oneself), and one who is growing in an ever deepening expression of loving other people. Because there is no end to the depths of the love of God, there is no end to the depths of the journey of awakening. In fact, this is where it comes full circle.
As we are awakened to the delight of loving God and the devotion to loving our neighbor, we invariably come back into touch with a holy discontent. It does not take long for our love for others to run thin which brings us face to face with our own deficits. We run into the barriers of our broken ways and realize we are out of our depths. We must grow deeper and toward a greater surrender and dependence on God, which in turn increases our delight in God which nourishes our love for others. Yes, this path keeps on going. Rather than becoming stuck in the ruts of a closed loop circle, we find ourselves moving in the pattern of the gloriously endless outward spiral of the awakening love of God in Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing love, which saves the world, and transforms our lives, and renews all of Creation. Your ways are perfect. Open the eyes of my heart to grasp more and more of the holy love of your son, Jesus Christ. Fill me with your Spirit that I might boldly love others with this same love. Nothing could be more central to life than this. I am ready to be awakened to all the fullness you can share with me and to run this course until I meet you face to face. In Jesus name. Amen.
How are you resonating with and relating to this movement of the second half of the gospel? Do you have the kinds of relationships in your life it takes to sustain real transformation? Will you pray about how those relationships can grow?
P.S. Upcoming on the Daily Text
Monday, August 3 begins our next Daily Text series: The Gospel of John. It will take us all the way to Advent. Please invite others to join us. Earlier this year I wrote a brand new Advent Study we are calling The Christian New Year. I am so excited about it and hope you will consider it for your church.
As always, What Happens in Corinth is available for pre-order now. Consider ordering a copy or two. It will bless you and help our sowing mission.
For the Awakening,