‘Come unto me,’ he says, ‘and I will give you.’ You say, ‘Lord, I cannot give you anything.’ He does not want anything. Come to Jesus, and he says, ‘I will give you.’ Not what you give to God, but what he gives to you, will be your salvation. ‘I will give you’ — that is the gospel in four words.
- C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:175. Italics original.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
John Hughes was the muse of the 80s high schooler. His writing credits include such giants of the genre as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In 1987, he finished his run of high school smash hits with Some Kind of Wonderful, the story of a guy (Eric Stoltz) who falls in love with a girl (Lea Thompson) who is completely out of his league. He recruits his best friend (Mary Stuart Masterson) to help him win Thompson's heart, never knowing the obvious truth: Masterson is desperately in love with him.
In true romanitc comedy form, Thompson proves not the vision of perfection she seemed to be from afar, and Stoltz realizes that the girl he really wanted, Masterson, was right there all along. This is not a unique trope, but it might be the clearest distillation of the Christian life, both misguided and proper, that we could ever hope to find.
Christians begin their life desperately seeking to know more about God. At first blush, there is nothing wrong with this goal.
But Luther himself said that the quest to know God was folly, and that the only reason we seek to know God was to domesticate and control him. It is Jesus who we draft into service as our guide to "become more like God" or to "get to know Him more."
Eric Stoltz thinks that he can turn himself into someone that Leah Thompson will love. This is the Christian quest to "know God." To know him, to become like him, so that he will love us more. We call this quest innocuous things like "deepening our relationship" and the goal seems laudable. But it doesn't work. Lea Thompson is inscrutable. Hard to understand. Counter-intuitive. Like God, she can't be "gotten to." It just doesn't work.
It is Mary Stuart Masterson, in the Christ role, who is there for us. Stoltz sees her as a means to an end...and yet, she is the end. She is the love of his life. We too often see Christ as a means to get us closer to God, but it is Christ who is there to pick us up when our quest for God ends as it must: in bitter defeat and failure.
John Hughes puts in our common language what Luther, and before him John the Evangelist (John 1:17-18), said in theological language: We cannot know God. To try is to waste our time, at best, and to struggle for independence from him, at worst. God, though, has made himself known, in God the Son, Jesus Christ. The one we try to use as a means to an end is, in fact, the end in himself. He is the Savior.
-- Nick Lannon
Posted by Stephen at 7:26 AM
Saturday, June 12, 2010
When we go to the cross, we see our God dying for us. If you let any other god down, it will beat you up. If you live for people’s approval or your career or possessions or control or anything else and you don’t make it or you mess up, then you’ll be left feeling afraid, downcast, or bitter. But when you let Christ down, he still loves you. He doesn’t beat you up; he died for you.
Let his love win your love, and let that love replace all other affections. The secret of change is to renew your love for Christ as you see him crucified in your place.
- Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 128.
Posted by Stephen at 8:55 AM
Friday, June 4, 2010
You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We tell ourselves we’re this way because we’re so busy with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we’re just divided, unfocused, hesitant, unfree.
That kind of person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give him a vote too. But then he becomes just one more complication. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you. Please run my whole life for me.” That is not complication; that is salvation.
- Ray Ortlund
Posted by Stephen at 10:07 PM