Calling – You Don’t Sing Me Love Songs
Real love captures us. Grabs us by the uvula. Can almost instantly level the landscape of everything we thought we knew or held dear. Make us sacrifice for someone else to lengths we wouldn’t think of even to satisfy our own self-centeredness (and that’s a long way). I’m a captured man many times over. First in eastern Tennessee by a woman with long brown hair unafraid to get her faith dirty in the streets where the poor lived, who had a splash of sass that wouldn’t take anything from me. Then by our children; the first time those tiny hands wrapped around my finger, I was wrapped around theirs. Marrying off your kids is a great way to add children without the whole pregnancy thing and we added two who can have a kidney anytime they need one. Seven grandchildren. One smile in their eyes melts any ice that can encrust my days.
But nothing compares to the capture of my heart that came when I met Jesus Christ. The calling of God on our lives starts here. It’s so much part of our religious sancto-babble that we give it lip service, acknowledge it with a nod as we want to get on the real stuff of calling. What should I major in? Where am I going to be after graduation? Where is this going to happen? Will I be alone or with someone? Jesus calls us to be His; the Creator of the world became flesh and lived among us, died, descended into hell, rose again primarily because He wanted us more than anything and that’s what it took. He chose us to be His. He thought we were something to cherish before we ever knew Him. He chose us for His bride, to be His lover. To the degree that we lose this, all the rest of the questions just melt down into dead religious selfishness even as we boogie to the praise band or sit like the traditional family team photo in a pew.
Don’t think this can happen? It already did. In Exodus 33, The Golden calf incident has just played out and basically God lays out an offer for Moses. Look, I’m going to put an angel in front of you. I’ll vanquish all the people in the land where you’re going. You get all the goodies – the land, houses, vineyards, wells, etc. But you won’t have my manifest presence with you. Many in American churches would shrug their shoulders, ponder for less than a minute and then say, “Cool!” Many already have. After stewing about this briefly, Moses tells God that if He won’t go with them then Israel goes nowhere. God’s powerful and loving presence stands as all that separates them from everybody else. It pops up again in John 6 where Jesus freaks out a largely Jewish crowd by talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. People bail out and Jesus turns to the twelve disciples and simply asks, “Are you leaving too?” No explanation of what He just said. Only a question, a steady gaze in their eyes and waiting for a response. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” Peter said.
Chew on this. Jeremiah 9:24 reads, “…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understand and knows Me…”. Western Civilization reduces knowing to the cognitive attaining, storing (mental filing) and utilization of information. We have a lot of stuff tucked between our ears that earned us a degree, that might solve a lunchtime puzzle on Mental Floss or get us on Jeopardy. It includes our doctrinal beliefs too. We click open the mental drawer any time we need to produce the right answer. This isn’t biblical knowing. In Gen 4:1, the same Hebrew word from Jeremiah describes Adam having relations with his wife in Genesis 4:1. What’s this knowing/sex thing about? It’s not about sex; it’s about intimacy, knowing intimately.
When Jesus died, things happened in Jerusalem that we forget about. The huge veil hanging in the temple that shielded the holiest of holy places from view ripped in two from the top to the bottom (Matt. 27:51). The high priest could only go in there once a year on the Day of Atonement and only after going through purification rites. Other priests would tie a rope around one ankle so if the high priest entered the room in a defiled condition and died in the presence of God, they could just drag out the body without risking their own necks. Serious stuff. And now the veil hung there in pieces. Now God said that, because of Christ’s death, anyone can come in anytime. It was His idea.
An old Barbra Streisand song begins, “You don’t bring me flowers. You don’t sing me love songs.” The church at Ephesus got a letter from Jesus (Rev. 2:1-7). He spoke cleanly to their strengths; you’re doctrinally orthodox and you practice good discernment. You have staying power; you don’t fade with things get tough. Then the stinger – “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” God spends a lot of time listening to people who only come when they want or need something. Isn’t it exciting for us when people who only want something fill our lives? It’s as if He says, “You ask Me to help you study for midterms, heal and touch people on campus and at home, bless everything from pizza parties to ultimate frisbee tournaments, lead you to someone to marry, layout the details of task and place when you graduate. You raise your hands and sway with eyes closed in large group (Is that about Me or more about you?). But you don’t sing me love songs.”
Jesus doesn’t have many lovers today – people who come to Him, just for Himself, just because they can. Period. An old prayer says, “…to Thee I come in difficulties, necessities and distresses; possess me for thyself…”. To land the great job when we graduate, find Mr.or Mrs Right or start with that cool ministry doing justice and stuff – all these things immediately become idols seducing us away from the One Who chased us down so we could intimately know Him, be His lover. If we’re not healed, never come into a pile of money, find our future shrouded in fog and all Jesus gave us was Himself – it’s enough. We’ll sing love songs. He went first.
“I can only give you love that lasts forever. And the promise to be near each time you call. And the only heart I own is yours and yours alone. That’s all. that’s all. If you’re wondering what I’m asking in return , dear. You’ll be glad to know that my demands are small. Say it’s me that you adore for now and evermore. That’s all.” (That’s All – copyrighted by Robert Haymes)
A cool apologetics/evangelism/discussion thing that not too many people know about – “Tales From the Madhouse”.
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Return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.