Monday, July 11, 2011

The loved are free to love

There's nothing macho about Christianity. Our Head (Christ) was the humble king who gave himself up to death for us. Nothing strong about that. Nothing self-loving and self-protecting and self-advancing about that. Christianity is for losers. It's good news for losers.

When we speak of Christ as Head over all we surely exalt his love and humility rather than his brute force power and dominating sovereignty. Anyone can follow one who  wields power - and look good for doing so - but it takes a different Spirit to follow one who is all love, who lays himself down, whose strengths is manifest in weakness. One who does not seize greatness but receives it as his Father raises him up above all else.

Hosea 1:11 sums up the gospel as concerning the appointment of Christ as Head, as the true husband who gives himself for a desperately unfaithful whore of a wife. The image isn't flattering - we're the whore. But the image is beautiful - in the place of abuse by others and self-inflicted abuse, she is now the subject of his great love. At cost and humiliation to himself he take her to be his own, to have and to hold, to give himself to. What is this Head like? Burroughs reflects:
"They shall 'appoint themselves one Head' not force Christ upon others by fire and sword. Heretics are to be burnt with fire, says Luther; but with what fire? the fire of charity (love)."
Nothing forceful, nothing cold and nothing abusive here. Where Christ is Head, the body loves because it is so astonishingly loved. There ought to be none as loving as one loved by Christ, for there is none so loved as one loved by Christ. Dev writes On freedom and slavery in Galatians
"The true son rests solely in the love of God shown in the cross of Christ – He needs no other affirmation, encouragement or reassurance. The Spirit of God is the one that constantly pours that love fresh into our hearts. If we are true sons, like Paul, we can become true fathers to others – to beget others through the same Spirit and not through the flesh. If we are insecure, then all our disciple-making will only bind others to ourselves, to boost out own standing with men and God – while actually making others slaves to the same insecurity. We will insist on certain practices and systems that we have invented for others to follow in as well. Once the Son sets us free, we are free indeed – people are allowed to express the one faith differently, in a way that harmonizes together – that the world may know we are a liberated people – for the flesh has no hold on how we view one another. We are a crucified people, through the cross of Christ. "
The loved are free, sons who can become fathers. Life givers to others, not manipulator and but liberators. A peculiar people, who follow Christ their Head and so learn to love like he loved and loves.
"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD." (Song 8:6)


  1. Dave,

    I'm not sure that this post is an entirely faithful description of our great Saviour...

    I'm thinking in particular of sentiments like:

    "When we speak of Christ as Head over all we surely exalt his love and humility rather than his power and sovereignty."

    What about Christ's resurrection and ascension - don't they tell us something of his greatness and might?

    Think about it like this. Who would turn up at Buckingham Palace and dare to pull up a chair next to dear Lizzie? Yet that is basically what our Risen Lord does when he turns up in God's Heaven (Hebrews 1:4). Couple that with Psalm 110 and the fact that all His enemies are currently being destroyed until they're all kaput (1 Corinthians 15:24-27) and a somewhat different Head to the one you describe above emerges.

    I agree that Christianity is a humble religion - we Christians are meant to be meek and humble as we emulate our King BUT that is not the whole story. Our King is also Lord, He is the Don, He is the Head Honcho, He is the top banana. Or to put it in more biblical language:

    Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
    and you be destroyed in your way,
    for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him



  2. I suppose I'm wanting to argue against some of the unfortunate caricatures I hear that effectively portray a bully with a nice side... forgive me if I've fallen into the trap of walking too far the other way.

    He is Lord of course, and is furious with those who plot to dethrone him, those who oppose him will know him against them.... and yet we know him as our refuge.

  3. I know what you mean about the idea that being loved leaves us free to love. I also see what Christ has done for us as setting us free from the burden of having to be good as a condition of God's acceptance, which sets us free to be genuinely good, to love others freely, because we no longer have to strive for our own righteousness.

    Presumably your references to 'macho christianity' and bullies with nice sides refer to the bizarre Mark Driscoll Facebook thing?