Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scandalous Love

 Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 363: Today, I am grateful for "scandalous" love.

Scandalouscausing general public outrage by a perceived offense against morality or law

Yes, Jesus exhibited scandalous behavior... according to the male dominated laws of the day. He did it over and over. The John Ortberg message "You are more" explains clearly why only the woman was about to be stoned in the courtyard on the day Jesus intervened (John 8).The man had committed no crime... according to the law of the day. What? 

Double standard?  Yes. The law of the day? Absolutely. 

In Jesus day, women and children were property. Rules for sexual behavior and fidelity were different for men and women. Infanticide was common then... and it still is today. Only boy babies were desired. Girl babies were often left to die. Electricity and technology may change how we live... but the human heart still has a darkness that has remained since we first found ourselves in the garden... naked and afraid. Until we invite and nurture the transforming light of God's love, we cannot be free. 

I found this quote from Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)... a woman. She wrote in English (so it is not translated)... and I was struck by the simplicity. 

"Between God and the Human there is no between." 

No between? Jesus' work on the cross included the ripping of the veil into the "Holy of Holies". No more separation. Unlimited access to the One True God, through prayer, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. One of my Bible journaling friends just did a page on that very thought. God designed us for a "no between" relationship. She noted that we are the ones who put up and invent the "betweens". 

Why? I am sure there are many reasons. One of the big ones is that God's presence can seem... well... scary. It should. We are to be fearful, but not afraid. Close friends... but without losing the awe or respect for who he is... the great I AM. 

Earworm is quoting CS Lewis again..."Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  Thank you, Earworm. CS Lewis explains it well. 

How do we enter into his presence? Do we avoid it? Do we put up a "between" for safety? Jesus came that there need be no separation. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three... and that we can be continually in His presence. Jesus echoes this when he promised the Holy Spirit: 

"even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. -John 14:17-19

As I sit here with my morning coffee... it is a ritual I savor. French pressed, a splash of cream and the first sip is a soul sip. Pure delight! Today, it is my favorite White Christmas blend. Nothing comes between me and my morning coffee. I am committed to that relationship so deeply that if I run out of time at home, I find a place to buy a cup. Nothing comes between me and my coffee. 

Do I seek that kind of intimacy with the Holy Spirit? Is that the naked desire of my heart? Do I itch for that first prayer of the morning like I jones for my first cup of coffee? I want to. I don't always. I am a work in progress. 

David prayed - "Create in me a clean heart. Renew a right spirit in me." Jesus taught this lesson in the Sermon on the Mount: "
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."- Matthew 5:6

Satisfaction comes from hunger and thirst?  It is another example of the "flipped" way that Jesus changed the world. To hunger and thirst for Him creates a very really feeling of satisfaction. He is our daily bread.

We live in a world hungry and desperate for love. It is desperate for true LOVE. The world misses that "God is love". Sexual intimacy is confused for real love. Women... children and babies are sold into slavery to feed the hunger of a depraved world. Yet, there is no satisfaction found. The perversions grow bigger and harder to satisfy. 

In contrast... intimacy in "holy matrimony"... was designed to be a God sealed "blood covenant". Designed to be a partnership of three... with giving and receiving.It can be a oneness of spirit that honors God and our mate. Time makes it more precious. Better. Sweeter. More cherished. It is something to be celebrated.    

It is funny to think that Jesus was thought scandalous because he respected men, women and children. His called his disciples... men, women and children... based on their hearts and not their sex, race, bank account or position. The ripples of his time here are still being felt. 

Jesus message that all are loved, wanted and worthy is still life changing. His scandalous love is still changing lives for those brave enough to say "yes" to his call. 

Today, I am grateful for "scandalous" love.

Dressember Day 29:

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