Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Glorious Christ

We sang "How Great Thou Art" in church last Sunday.

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.

This gets me. It slays me.
Honestly: I scarce can take it in.

I am not a fan of emotionalism. And I would never encourage gauging the quality of one's spirituality based on how one feels (I in fact discourage such temperature taking). But I do think it is important for us to be moved when we ponder the gospel. When you even barely grasp the depths of your depravity in even a glimpse of the light of God's holiness, and then see that terrible contrast intersecting at the cross, where God's only Son bled the ground red with grace, how can you not be moved? How can I not be moved?
These days, the more I think on it, the more I reflect on it, the more I feast on it, the more I trust in it, the more I proclaim it, the more I enjoy it . . . the more I am in disorienting awe over it.

The scandalous beauty of the crucified king, the awful glory of the sacrificed Lord: this is the watershed moment of all of history, and it ought to be the watershed moment of your history.
It is Jesus' offering of himself to the torturous, murderous death on the cross that connects us to the potential of beholding him in his resurrected, exalted glory. Without the full experience of the Incarnation, obedience to the constraints of humanity (obedience unto death: That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin
), we could not behold the full glory of God and live. Yet because he became like us and died, we can behold him as he truly is and live.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Does it make your soul sing?

Jesus Christ is glorious. He is glorious. Because he is God, and because he bore the sins of the world, undeserving of a necessary death.
When you think on the crucified Christ, do you see the exaltation in this humiliation, the glory in this inglorious death?

Looking back through the powerful lens of the bodily resurrection, we see the cross not simply as the moment Jesus died because of sin and death, but as the moment Jesus murdered sin and death. Christ killed is Christ conquering; Christ raised is Christ in conquest.
That is amazing. Only a wild God could tell a story so fantastic.

Does the gospel still thrill you? Does it still captivate you? Does its simple presentation still warm your heart?
Or are you cold to its plot points? Has the repetition of its propositions desensitized you to its scandal? Is it theory to you, a catchphrase, a buzz word? God forbid, is it a cliche?

It is for me, still (thank God), the inconceivable event of my very real and terrible sin being covered and conquered by a very real and terrifying grace.

Behold -- fix on, revel in, exult in -- the glory of God in the glorious Christ.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
-- 2 Corinthians 4:5-6


Jen said...

We sang Fairest Lord Jesus on Sunday, which is my all time favorite hymn.

Second is How Great Thou Art. As you say, there's good Gospel stuff in there.

Jared said...

I know!

And I don't know if I'm the only one noticing this, but our folks LOVE singing this stuff.
As burnt out on "religion" or "tradition" as they may be, I notice the difference in spirit -- the louder voices, the more attentive faces, the more worshipful presence -- whenever we do one of these old standards these days.

I think people are ready for them again, and I think they speak to us in ways the newer stuff (which I love) sometimes can't. Hymns call upon our memories with fondness, and because we haven't used them in a while, using them again is like a neat surprise. The language and poetry of them strikes us as both familiar and fresh; we see them with new eyes and greater understanding.

It's like hearing an old song on the radio you used to LOVE but forgot completely about.
Only more so.

For me, anyway.
Our Element worship guy is really great about using hymns. Last weekend it was awesome to hear college students and twentysomethings sing "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus."
In my earlier life as a seeker church guy we believed we shouldn't sing about blood because it would gross people out. :-)

salguod said...

Jared - I'll have that song in my head for the rest of the day.

Thank you. :-)

One of my favorites.