Friday, June 27, 2008

Cut Off From Christ For The Love of Another?

"I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit-- that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Rom 9:1-3; ESV)

Perhaps you, like me, have read over this passage a few times without stopping long to consider the gravity of its verbage. Perhaps other times you stopped, pondered shortly and moved on to see how it fit in with the rest of the chapter as is fitting for a good reading. Tonight, however; these three simple verses have left me quite stunned.

In my last post I considered how valuable God's love was to me and how knowing that it can never be taken away leaves me emboldened to say "I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus, I will not merely survive each day but master it in Jesus name!"

It is quite true that the love that God has shown me is valuable to me beyond what any verb, adjective, superlative or any other element of grammar could ever fully describe. Like the man who found the treasure in a field (as noted in Matthew chapter thirteen) and sold all he had to buy the field, so too have I given away anything that was of value to me in order to obtain the ever appreciating worth of knowing Christ and being found in Him.

What do we have apart from Christ? Nothing. We have death, lies and loss of direction. The mere thought of being parted from this lover of my soul makes me shiver inside and cry out as David did when he said, "Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me." (Psalms 51:11)

Christ has become to me as "the one ring" was to Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R Tolkien. It (Christ's love and presence) has cast a deep, intoxicating and controlling power over me that has left me "deformed" and bound to him as Smeagol was to the one ring.

So I assume that Paul (once Saul the Jewish terror to the early Church) felt the same way if not more reagarding the worth of God. This same Paul says to the Philippians,

"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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Php 3:8-11)

Certainly Paul asserts the nature of his love for Christ in many other words in many other passages. With all that said and established, look back at what Paul says at the beginning of Romans 9; "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh."

What kind of love did Paul have for his people that he would ever begin to contemplate separation from His Lord and Savior that they too might know Him by such a title and in truth? Notice the powerful and sharp words Paul uses to describe the depth of love he has for his Hebrew bretheren (according to the flesh)--great sorrow and unceasing anguish.

It appears to me, that Paul has caught the terminal virus that is the love of God. He wished that he could be to his people what Christ is to him. He wished that he could be cut off from Christ as Christ was cut off from the Father for the sake of us all. Of course he realizes that only Christ can and does suffice as a perfect sacrifice even for those souls that he is drowning in anguish over, but the inclination and idea is beyond marvelous.

Do we feel this for our fellow man? Do we feel deep sorrow and unceasing anguish for the lost around us? Can we say that we could give whatever we can, even contemplate momentary separation from Christ? Even a moments separation from Christ seems unthinkable and horrendous to me now. Do I truly love my fellow man that much?

God help us to feel great sorrow and unceasing anguish for those lost ones around us. Moreover, let that agony drive us to sacrifice even unto death for their sake, as Christ did for us.

O let me kiss Thy bleeding feet, And bathe and wash them with my tears!
The story of Thy love repeat In every drooping sinner’s ears,
That all may hear the quickening sound,
Since I, even I, have mercy found,
Since I, even I, have mercy found.

O let Thy love my heart constrain!
Thy love for every sinner free,
That every fallen soul of man
May taste the grace that found out me;
That all mankind with me may prove
Thy sovereign everlasting love,
Thy sovereign everlasting love.

Read/hear the rest of Would Jesus Have the Sinner Die? By Charles Wesley.