At discipleship group (affectionately known as “deeg”) tonight we listened to a worship song about Jesus (as you do). I don’t remember what the song was called, but it was pretty standard worship music – love and Jesus and all those good things. This one had a line that said, “Jesus, you’re more beautiful than anything.” I’m not really a huge fan of lyrics like that, to be honest, because it’s nice but what does it really mean? But tonight it sparked the thought, “He is more beautiful than anything because he’s as beautiful as everything.” And boy, that set me rolling. Because he is. God shows Himself to us in His creation, as Romans says.
Romans 1: 20 (ESV)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Then Hebrews says:
Hebrews 1: 3a (ESV)
He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
All of the beauty and the power and majesty and most of all the love that God expressed in creation found its expression in Jesus. The passionate, exuberant love that vented itself in a trillion trillion stars, in oceans teeming with a rainbow of life, in plants that burst out in flowers every spring and grow with an abandon that any gardener will tell you is nearly impossible to tame, in a sky that breaks out in vivid color as if to celebrate the awakening of His precious humans – that love was condensed in Jesus. The tiny, perfect blue of a forget-me-not. The vast, intense blue of the sky. The reflection on a still lake. The breeze in a sea of grass. All that beauty bound up in one place. He was a singularity of love.
Can you even imagine what he must have been like? I don’t know if I can. He must have been…breathtaking. Astonishing. Overwhelming. It would have been an intense experience to meet him, I think. He would have been the most captivating and humbling and terrifying human who ever walked the planet. No wonder people flocked. Just like a concentration of mass produces gravity that draws other mass to it, I think such a concentration of love must have been powerfully magnetic. Coming face to face with the sheer force of that kind of love couldn’t possibly leave a person unchanged. On Tuesday in my other small group we talked about how, while he was on Earth, the one thing people were not, when it came to Jesus, was indifferent. Everyone felt strongly about him. They didn’t have a choice. Something that intense must be acknowledged, it demands to be considered.
I understand now why he called himself the bread of life, the fountain of living water. The embodiment of love, the sum total of the life-giving love that formed and sustains creation, stepped into a world parched and starving for love. Encountering that love in person would have been the most satisfying, reviving, thirst-quenching, soul-filling moment. Realizing in a moment that a love like that not only exists, but that it is for you. You would never thirst again. Nothing else would matter. You would follow that love anywhere. You would follow it forever. That, at least, was the experience Paul had.
Philippians 3: 8 (ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Being loved like that is terrifying though. It is so uncomfortable when we know we’re loved beyond what we deserve. When someone sets their affection on us fully, we can tend to draw back, because we know ourselves. We know how imperfect we are. We know the inevitability of our failure, the certainty that we’ll someday hurt them. To know that the other person understands all of that and continues to love us is instantly humbling. To know that nothing we’ve done and nothing we could ever hope to do could ever earn us this love…that’s where it becomes scary. Because the one and only thing we can do to respond is dare to love him back. And that…is terrifying. Because to meet a love like that, that sacrifices and gives and dies, to truly dive in and love back means we will do anything, anything for him. Nothing withheld. Nothing disallowed. An abandoned self. It’s not demanded, not even a condition of the continuing love. But it’s the only reasonable response to that kind of love. The ONLY one. Gulp.
Dear God, let me see and taste more and more of that love. I want to be so captivated and amazed by it that I don’t even want to turn around and look back at my old life, that it’s not even tempting. I’ve heard about it with my ears but I want to see it with my eyes and experience it and be permanently changed by it. Help me not be scared to go all in. Help me dare to love you back the way you love me.