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We celebrate the victory of our Champions, though we haven't expended a calorie of effort ourselves.  They represent us - clothing themselves in our colours (and we in theirs).  Because of our connection, their victory is our victory.

Just so, Jesus takes on our condition, clothes Himself in our humanity.  And His victory is our victory.

Knowing Christ as Champion is the chief article and foundation of the gospel...

Martin Luther: “The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own. This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ himself, with his deeds and suffering, belongs to you. On this you may depend as surely as if you had done it yourself; indeed as if you were Christ himself. See, this is what it means to have a proper grasp of the gospel.”

Sermon audio

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Far and away the best Australian comedy ever made, The Castle is a must-see movie.  Brilliantly observed, funny, heart-warming and if you're not punching the air at the triumphant ending I fear for the state of your soul.

The Kerrigan family are threatened with eviction by a nasty corporation.  But 'a man's home is his castle' so they fight it through the courts and... (last second spoiler alert!)... win.

It taps into some deeply felt Australian myths.  It's about home and land - with overt references to aboriginal land rights.  It's about family and mateship and a fair go. Most of all it's the myth of the little Aussie battler winning through.

Or is it?

In the story, Darryl Kerrigan (right) is completely helpless.  He's all at sea in a legal world far beyond his understanding.  As much as he wants to protect his family, he's absolutely powerless.  His fate, and the fate of his household, lies with one of two advocates.

First, Dennis Denuto (left) makes terrible representation (see below).  All is lost.

But a saviour is found in Lawrence Hammill QC (centre).  Everything changes the minute 'Lawrie' utters those words, "I'd like to appear on your behalf - gratis... free!"

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITUSZ6LRHrk&feature=related"]

To the court, Darryl Kerrigan only looked as good as his representative.  When his representative was poor, his case was thrown out.  When his representative was good, he was utterly vindicated.  His destiny lay in the hands of his advocate.

As an audience, we have a soft spot for the Kerrigans.  But Lawrie wins our hearts.  Only the emotionally constipated could watch his final speech (not shown above) with dry eyes.

The Castle's not about a working class hero who never gave up.  This is not the story of one man standing against the powers that be - much as we love that myth.  It's about the powerful one stepping down for the weak.  It's the strong advocate who graciously intercedes.

Therefore - two things.  1)  Go and see The Castle if you haven't already!

And 2) realise this:  You are not the determined little guy who'll make good in the end.  You're facing trial - powerless and guilty.  But you have a brilliant Advocate.  He says, "I'd like to appear on your behalf - gratis!"  And He makes faultless representation to the court of heaven.  You stand in Him completely vindicated.  What kind of Advocate is this!

24 Because Jesus lives for ever, He has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.   (Heb 7:24-26)

19 Even now my Witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high. 20 My Intercessor is my Friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man He pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.  (Job 16:19-21)

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I’m always coming across it.  Do you ever hear this kind of statement?

-- It’s important to be Christ-centred, but let’s not forget about God.

Now this could mean one of a number of things.

It could mean "I need to hear about the Father and His Spirit of Adoption"

Or it could mean "We need to give equal prominence to the one god of philosophy."

In either case, the answer is to give the person more Jesus!  The first person needs to know the Father and the Spirit in Christ (and in Christ alone) and the second person needs to replace their theological method with Christ (and with Christ alone).

Because if someone says "We need to focus less on Jesus and give more time to "God" or "the Father" or "the Spirit"... where does that leave the mediation of Christ ?  Do we really believe in Christ as Mediator?

Or do we think it’s about balancing our respect for the Persons?  As though ‘being trinitarian’ means standing before a loose association of deities and ensuring equal devotion.  That sounds more like speed-dating at the Pantheon.  Do we really imagine ourselves to be outside the Three, making sure we spend equal time at the feet of Each?  Have we forgotten that we are in the Son?  And nowhere else!  Have we forgotten that the Father and the Spirit are in the Son?  And nowhere else!

Or is that only an incidental point?  Is that only half true?  Or only sometimes true?  Because if it’s just true – true true – then there’s no way to be Patro-centric or Pneuma-centric except by being resolutely Christo-centric.

I know the Father as ‘Him Who makes the Son Son.’  I know the Spirit as ‘Him Who makes the Christ, Christ.’  And I don’t know them otherwise.

But a theologian making a plea for equal time for the Persons… once they turn their gaze from the Son, how exactly are they going to view the Father?  They’re not.  So this one to whom they turn when they look away from Jesus, who is that guy?

And what’s he doing?  Clearly he hasn’t committed all things into his Son’s hands.  He’s got a venture or two on the side that requires supplemental enquiries!

And where do they imagine themselves to be as they circulate around the trinity?  Do they think of themselves as a fourth individual at the heart of the Holy Huddle.  Well the Shack might put me there and some Christian art might put me there, and that might be an improvement on unitarianism. But that’s not really where I am.  I’m IN Jesus participating in His Sonship and Anointing.  This is my only access to the life of the trinity.  Jesus is not just One of the Three, He is The Way.

I don’t have a relationship with the Father and the Spirit except the relationship that Christ has with them.  I know the trinity not from some objective fourth perspective, but only from Christ’s perspective.  Only in Him, and all that He is and does for me, do I know His Father and Spirit.

So, absolutely, don’t forget the Father or Spirit.  Get to know the Persons in all their distinct glory and grace. But they are not outside of the Christ, the Son of God. And neither are you!

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Credo magazine is a free online publication produced bi-monthly.  The January edition tackles the issue of inclusivism under the title "In Christ Alone."  Matthew Barrett's Editorial lays out the exclusivist position:

"It is only through faith in Christ that a sinner can be saved from hell and the wrath of God."

Trevin Wax distinguishes exclusivism and inclusivism by listing the following two propositions:

"Jesus is the only way to God.” “One must place faith in Christ in order to be saved.”

Exclusivism affirms both statements.  Inclusivism affirms the first and denies the second. (He doesn't address the issue of infant salvation, though other contributors do mention it).

Wax identifies the negative implications of inclusivism in the following way:

"Unfortunately, adopting the inclusivist approach does harm to our Christian witness by lessening the urgency of taking the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ. It also represents a capitulation to Western notions of “fairness,” subjective views of faith, and worldly descriptions of “goodness.”

So the problem with inclusivism is, 1) we lose the urgency to reach the unreached, 2) it arises when we follow our feelings rather than what the Scriptures actually say.

From here on, the magazine repeats these themes again and again. The urgency of missions and the need to be biblical rather than PC-driven.

I am whole-heartedly with them in these aims.  Christ must be proclaimed in all the nations and there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).  But what's interesting to me is the way in which the question is framed.  Again and again I got the feeling that Christ was being held forth as the sole distributor of eternal fire insurance.  Salvation is defined pretty consistently as "not hell" and Christ is portrayed as the means of escape.  When put like that, the exclusivist position can sound like a heavy-handed assertion rather than something arising from the nature of the gospel.

Many times the magazine's writers anticipated objections, yet their response was usually a re-assertion of certain verses and a plea to be biblical and not worldly.  All of which begs the question why do we insist on Christ alone?  Is it that the Bible has this embarrassingly narrow doctrine but true believers will stick to the Scriptures, no matter how unpopular?

Or is it that Christ is actually so vast that naming the true Lord of this world means naming Christ alone?

One article stood head and shoulders above the others.  And you won't be surprised to hear me say it was Mike Reeves'.

Here's how he began and ended his article:

What does it look like when a church starts to assume that people can be saved without faith in Christ? If I had been left to guess, I might have said it would look much the same, only a bit flabbier: comforted by the thought that good Buddhists and religious Hindus will be saved, the church would lose its evangelistic zeal, of course – but otherwise, life would go on.

However, the situation in Britain today proves that guess wildly over-optimistic. In the last few decades, the belief that people can be saved without trusting Christ has come to be the standard assumption here, even in relatively conservative Christian circles. And wherever that idea reigns, I am seeing a sickness that goes much deeper than apathy. More than no evangelism, it means no real evangel. Quite simply, that is because if ‘salvation’ is thought of as something other than being brought to know Christ, then that ‘salvation’ is something quite different to what Christ himself offers.

...to say that it is not important to know Christ explicitly is to say that salvation is something else....

...Where faith in Christ is considered inessential for salvation, there people are left with little more than a boiled-down religiosity – a tedious God and a meagre salvation. It may wear Christian clothing – as Arius did – but anyone that thinks that knowing Christ is superfluous simply cannot have grasped how different the God he reveals is, the nature of his salvation, how great the assurance to be found in him. In which case, no wonder their Christianity seems lifeless and dreary.

At first glance, of course it seems more generous and attractive to ‘lower the bar’ of salvation and make knowledge of Christ unnecessary. But the joyless, unassured lives of so many Christians in Britain testifies to the fact that when knowing Christ is considered insignificant, there is no truly good news left.

Christ is not the sole distributor of fire insurance.  He is the true God and eternal life! (1 John 5:20)  No wonder salvation is in Christ alone.  Salvation is Christ alone!

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The centre of the Christian life is not your personal relationship with God.  The centre of the Christian life is Christ’s personal relationship with God.  But the good news is, you are in Christ, the Man after God's own heart.

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Sermon Audio on Matthew 3:1-17

There are many frustrations involved in being an Australian cricket fan in this country.  Many more in recent years!  But one of the biggest frustrations is the fact that in the middle of an international test series to decide the number one team in the world, the sports news in this country seems more concerned about the off-season exploits of club football.  Why?  Transfer deals.  Every club wants to find a man who will turn their fortunes around.  They scour the world trying to find the man who will bring them glory, who will lift the trophies, who will win them the silverware.  And they pay millions of pounds to secure this man.

But of course it’s a myth.  There isn’t one footballer who can really do all that.  But football fans pretend and hope against hope and spend ludicrous amounts of money, and take up all the column inches in the newspapers.

It’s a myth that one man can turn it all around, but imagine it works.  Imagine they discover the man who will raise the club to fresh heights.  He scores in every game, he takes them to the FA Cup final, he scores the winning goal in the dying seconds of the match.  And you’re there in the crowd.  And all season – even pre-season – he’s been your man, you’ve always trusted in him, you’ve always believed that he would be the one.  And you’re there in the crowd and everyone is going crazy, and he runs to the sideline, right where you are, and lifts his arms and makes a gesture like “This is for you.”  And you’re bellowing you celebrations to him, and you’re hugging total strangers, but you’re all on the same team, you’re all united IN the one man.  You are united TO your champion.  His victory is your victory, and you celebrate as though you had scored the winning goal.  You haven’t scored the winning goal.   You haven’t expended a calorie of effort in the victory, but your man has done it and you share in his glory.

That’s how Christians feel about Jesus.  He is the one man, the one man who comes to reverse our fortunes, the one man who steps forward to defeat all the powers we could never defeat.  The one man who wins victory and then shares His victory with we who believe in Him.  He is our Champion, and we need to understand that about Jesus.

...continue reading "Christ our Champion – Sermon on Matthew 3"

This was first published on Emma's site.  If you haven't already, go and subscribe.  Best blog ever!

How much thought do you give to the Priesthood of Jesus?  It seems to me to be a much neglected teaching.  But it’s absolutely crucial, especially when thinking about mental illness.

What’s it all about?  Well here’s Job, Paul and the writer to the Hebrews…

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.”  (Job 16:18-20)

“Christ Jesus… is also interceding for us.”  (Romans 8:34)

“Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)

According to the bible we have a Friend in high places.  And He’s praying for us.  Continually.

I remember speaking at a prayer meeting and beginning with these words “You’re all late to prayers.”  One person who’d only just stolen in at the back spoke up sheepishly, “Sorry I had car trouble…”  I said, “You’re not the only one late.  I was late.  Everyone was late.  We are all always late to prayers.  Before we ever think to pray, Jesus has already been offering up to the Father the perfect prayer, the perfect obedience, the perfect worship, the perfect love.  He has been doing it in our place and on our behalf.  And He always will.  Any prayers we pray are just the Amen to His perfect prayer.”

In other words, Jesus is our Priest.  And He will continue to be our Priest forever. Our whole lives are offered up to the Father perfectly by Jesus, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

That’s crucial when dealing with depression or with any kind of dark time.  When it seems impossible to pray, when I don’t even want to pray, Jesus is praying for me.  When my heart is as hard as nails towards God, Jesus is the true Man after God’s heart.  When my internal world is completely chaotic, Jesus is my peace.  And He always lives to intercede for me.  My status before God is not me – it’s Him!

Therefore when times are hard and my heart’s a mess, my hope is not in sorting myself out.  My hope is not in me rising above it all.  My hope is seated far above my stormy circumstances and He is immovably secure.

Emma and I have a friend who wrote to us with a letter addressed to God.  It was full of mixed emotions – wanting to serve God yet feeling completely unworthy.  On the one hand she had great love for God but on the other, terrible anger and feelings of distance and loneliness.  It was an unresolved tension throughout her prayer.  Extremely presumptuously, I wrote a reply to her as Jesus.  It was His Priesthood that I really wanted to communicate.  Here’s what I wrote (in Jesus’ name):

Dear Lucy,

I hear you.  I know you.  I’m for you.

In the midst of your darkness and pain and in the midst of your sin I hear you, I know you and I’m for you.
I have you on my heart before the Father and I pray for you.  Constantly.  However you feel and however you rebel, you are secure before the throne of God.  I’ve got you.

I offer to God the perfect praise, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect obedience, in your name and on your behalf.

You are more than forgiven Lucy.  Your sins have been covered, cleansed and removed as far as the east is from the west.  My work on the cross was complete.  There’s nothing between you and God now.  Only me.  And I am keeping you together.  I will do that forever – I will never leave you or forsake you.

When you feel unable to pray – I am praying for you.
When you feel far from God – I am lifting you to Him.
When you wallow in the darkness – I’ve got you in the light.
When you sin – I am bearing the wounds of your forgiveness.
When you cut – I am robing you in righteousness and love.

I am yours forever,
Jesus

Jesus, our great High Priest, lifts us out of ourselves and allows us to take our eyes off our own stuck-ness.  Even if we don’t feel it, that’s ok.  It’s true.  Far above and beyond our own hearts it is true.  So then, let’s allow ourselves to be told the truth:

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect Plea,
A Great High Priest Whose name is love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

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This was first published on Emma's site.  If you haven't already, go and subscribe.  Best blog ever!

How much thought do you give to the Priesthood of Jesus?  It seems to me to be a much neglected teaching.  But it’s absolutely crucial, especially when thinking about mental illness.

What’s it all about?  Well here’s Job, Paul and the writer to the Hebrews…

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.”  (Job 16:18-20)

“Christ Jesus… is also interceding for us.”  (Romans 8:34)

“Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)

According to the bible we have a Friend in high places.  And He’s praying for us.  Continually.

I remember speaking at a prayer meeting and beginning with these words “You’re all late to prayers.”  One person who’d only just stolen in at the back spoke up sheepishly, “Sorry I had car trouble…”  I said, “You’re not the only one late.  I was late.  Everyone was late.  We are all always late to prayers.  Before we ever think to pray, Jesus has already been offering up to the Father the perfect prayer, the perfect obedience, the perfect worship, the perfect love.  He has been doing it in our place and on our behalf.  And He always will.  Any prayers we pray are just the Amen to His perfect prayer.”

In other words, Jesus is our Priest.  And He will continue to be our Priest forever. Our whole lives are offered up to the Father perfectly by Jesus, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

That’s crucial when dealing with depression or with any kind of dark time.  When it seems impossible to pray, when I don’t even want to pray, Jesus is praying for me.  When my heart is as hard as nails towards God, Jesus is the true Man after God’s heart.  When my internal world is completely chaotic, Jesus is my peace.  And He always lives to intercede for me.  My status before God is not me – it’s Him!

Therefore when times are hard and my heart’s a mess, my hope is not in sorting myself out.  My hope is not in me rising above it all.  My hope is seated far above my stormy circumstances and He is immovably secure.

Emma and I have a friend who wrote to us with a letter addressed to God.  It was full of mixed emotions – wanting to serve God yet feeling completely unworthy.  On the one hand she had great love for God but on the other, terrible anger and feelings of distance and loneliness.  It was an unresolved tension throughout her prayer.  Extremely presumptuously, I wrote a reply to her as Jesus.  It was His Priesthood that I really wanted to communicate.  Here’s what I wrote (in Jesus’ name):

Dear Lucy,

I hear you.  I know you.  I’m for you.

In the midst of your darkness and pain and in the midst of your sin I hear you, I know you and I’m for you.
I have you on my heart before the Father and I pray for you.  Constantly.  However you feel and however you rebel, you are secure before the throne of God.  I’ve got you.

I offer to God the perfect praise, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect obedience, in your name and on your behalf.

You are more than forgiven Lucy.  Your sins have been covered, cleansed and removed as far as the east is from the west.  My work on the cross was complete.  There’s nothing between you and God now.  Only me.  And I am keeping you together.  I will do that forever – I will never leave you or forsake you.

When you feel unable to pray – I am praying for you.
When you feel far from God – I am lifting you to Him.
When you wallow in the darkness – I’ve got you in the light.
When you sin – I am bearing the wounds of your forgiveness.
When you cut – I am robing you in righteousness and love.

I am yours forever,
Jesus

Cheesy I know.  But it’s the Priesthood of Christ that lifts us out of ourselves and allows us to take our eyes off our own stuck-ness.  Even if we don’t feel it, that’s ok.  It’s true.  Far above and beyond our own hearts it is true.  So then, let’s allow ourselves to be told the truth:

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect Plea,
A Great High Priest Whose name is love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

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Here's a faster edit of my video from a couple of years ago.   Same content, done in 4 minutes rather than 6 and a half.

When I first made the video it was prompted by some TF Torrance stuff I was reading.  It's all about the vicarious humanity of Christ!

But Luther said it long before him.  And recently Mike put me onto his Brief Instruction on What to Look For and Expect in the Gospels (part one, part two - Dave K also blogged on it recently).  It's glorious stuff.  Christ is not fundamentally our Example.  At base He is our Substitute:

Gospel is and should be nothing else than a discourse or story about Christ, just as happens among men when one writes a book about a king or a prince, telling what he did, said, and suffered in his day. Such a story can be told in various ways; one spins it out, and the other is brief. Thus the gospel is and should be nothing else than a chronicle, a story, a narrative about Christ, telling who he is, what he did, said, and suffered—a subject which one describes briefly, another more fully, one this way, another that way. For at its briefest, the gospel is a discourse about Christ, that he is the Son of God and became man for us, that he died and was raised, that he has been established as a Lord over all things...

...Be sure, moreover, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples as the other saints do, as if the gospel were simply a textbook of teachings or laws...

...The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own. This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ himself, with his deeds and suffering, belongs to you. On this you may depend as surely as if you had done it yourself; indeed as if you were Christ himself. See, this is what it means to have a proper grasp of the gospel, that is, of the overwhelming goodness of God, which neither prophet, nor apostle, nor angel was ever able fully to express, and which no heart could adequately fathom or marvel at. This is the great fire of the love of God for us, whereby the heart and conscience become happy, secure, and content. This is what preaching the Christian faith means. This is why such preaching is called gospel, which in German means a joyful, good, and comforting “message”; and this is why the apostles are called the “twelve messengers.”

Concerning this Isaiah 9[:6] says, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” If he is given to us, then he must be ours; and so we must also receive him as belonging to us. And Romans 8[:32], “How should [God] not give us all things with his Son?” See, when you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian. Faith redeems you from sin, death, and hell and enables you to overcome all things. O no one can speak enough about this. It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world, and yet boast is made daily of the gospel.
Now when you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows: that you take him as your example, giving yourself in service to your neighbor just as you see that Christ has given himself for you. See, there faith and love move forward, God’s commandment is fulfilled, and a person is happy and fearless to do and to suffer all things. Therefore make note of this, that Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian. But Christ as an example exercises your works. These do not make you a Christian. Actually they come forth from you because you have already been made a Christian. As widely as a gift differs from an example, so widely does faith differ from works, for faith possesses nothing of its own, only the deeds and life of Christ. Works have something of your own in them, yet they should not belong to you but to your neighbor.

So you see that the gospel is really not a book of laws and commandments which requires deeds of us, but a book of divine promises in which God promises, offers, and gives us all his possessions and benefits in Christ....

...When you open the book containing the gospels and read or hear how Christ comes here or there, or how someone is brought to him, you should therein perceive the sermon or the gospel through which he is coming to you, or you are being brought to him. For the preaching of the gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to him. When you see how he works, however, and how he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that faith is accomplishing this in you and that he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favor through the gospel. If you pause here and let him do you good, that is, if you believe that he benefits and helps you, then you really have it. Then Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift...

Read the whole thing (part one, part two).  Well worth the 5 minutes!

Following on from last Thursday's post - Psalms are about Christ.   They tell of the interaction between the LORD, the King through Whom He rules, the righteous who hide in Him and the wicked who rebel.

These interactions are pictured from many angles.  But one key perspective is for the King Himself to speak.  This most often happens in the Psalms 'Of David'.

Of course all the kings reigned under the knowledge that they were simply throne-warmers for the King to Whom universal tribute was due. (Gen 49:10)  But David was the most idealized of these kings.  The Messiah is often spoken of simply as David.  (e.g. Ezekiel 34:23f; 37:25).  And David himself is aware of his idealized role.  Just before his death he said: "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue." (2 Sam 23:2)  He didn't speak better than he knew, but he certainly spoke better than he lived. In the Psalms the king most often spoke as The King.  The anointed one spoke most often as The Anointed One.

Peter confirms this for us in Acts 2.  Even when David spoke in the first person he was speaking the words of Christ (see Acts 2:25).  Quoting Psalm 16, Peter makes it clear that David was not describing his own experience. (Paul underlines this in Acts 13:36-37).  Rather, David "was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ" (Acts 2:30-31).

Does this mean that such Psalms have no application to David?  No of course they do - but such application runs from Christ to David rather than David to Christ.  This is the nature of the whole of David's life -  from shepherd boy to rejected ruler, to reigning king to his death, he is a shadow of the Coming King.

This is my understanding anyway.  Whether you take the Psalms from David to Christ or Christ to David, I hope we can all agree that the emotions and experiences of 'The King' are ultimately taken up and owned by Christ.

All of this is just a precursor to what I really want to discuss...  What do we do with the Psalmist's intense desire for the LORD?

On one level that's simple - copy it.  Be challenged by it.  Be inspired by it.  Seek it for yourself.

Well, yes, ok.  But here's the question - what do I do when I don't earnestly desire the LORD?  Because maybe once or twice in your life your white hot devotion to God has dipped below the zeal of the Psalmist.  What do you do then?

Here's the first level of my response:  When I don't desire God, first I need to see that Christ does.  And He does so for me.

What do I mean?

Well take a favourite Psalm of mine: Psalm 63

Here the Psalmist says:

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Now be honest, doesn't some part of you go "Really?  Have I really beheld His power and glory?  Really?  Have I in the past and will I in the future praise Him so wholeheartedly?  Really?  As long as I live?  Am I perjuring myself here??"

But friend, read on to the final verse...

11 But the king will rejoice in God

These are the words of the king - the king on whose lips are the words of The King.  And He has beheld the power and glory of the LORD in the ultimate sanctuary.  He is the ultimate, white-hot Worshipper of God.  These words are not a guide to human worship so much as a window onto divine worship.

So what should be our response?

Sit back and be awed by The King's desire for the LORD.  You don't yet feel such intense passion.  Well alright.  In the deepest sense you never can match His devotion.  But let the King's worship be enough for you.  Don't despise his devotion like Michal (2 Sam 6:16).  Simply allow your King to offer what you cannot summon up yourself.  Know that He offers in your place a worship you could never initiate.  And if the Praise-Worthy does not elicit your praise, let the Praise-Giver show the way.  In ourselves we could never work up the right response.  In Christ we see what reckless and joyful abandon to God looks like.

He is like the first Dancer onto the floor, moved by the Music, laughing and clapping and dancing as we never could.  The more you watch Him dance, the more your foot starts to tap, then you start clapping.  Pretty soon you'll link arms and join in.  The Music itself should get you on the dance floor.  But in fact the Music never does - not really.  It's the Dancer who inspires, who links arms and who leads.

Read Psalm 63 again.  And add your own Amen.  For now that is enough.  If these words were simply the prayer diary of an ancient near eastern ruler, your Amen would mean nothing.  If these were just passionate words from an inspired and inspiring devotee they could only judge your apathy.  But they're not.  This is the worship of The King.  Your King.   This is Christ your Substitute, your Priest, your Vicarious Worshipper.  He bears your name on His heart as He comes before the LORD in joyful abandon.  For now just allow Him to offer the praise you cannot find in yourself.  In time you'll join the dance.

For more on Christ offering worship on our behalf, here's a half hour talk I gave recently.

 

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