Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Gospel Too Big for My Heart

This week in the Daily Office we have been taken on quite a journey... through visions of Christ walking among his churches (Rev. 1:12-16), to songs of confidence in the goodness of God to his people (Psalm 30).  We have heard of his mercy on our sins (Psalm 32) and also of God's great judgment against our sin (Matt 23:1-12; Amos 8; Psalm 38).  We have read of the requirement of our endurance as Christians (Rev 1:7, 10, 17, 26), of the unfathomable and mysterious depths of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, and of how he fulfills all the things we read (Matt 21:41ff).  And then, at the conclusion of these readings, each day we return to the Apostle's Creed (BCP, p. 94) to proclaim and hear the good news of the work and reality of the Triune God who ties all these varied passages together.

What has hit me this week is that the works and goodness of God are more than I can take in.  The gospel is simply too big for my heart to contain, and I cannot hold all the good news of God in Christ Jesus in my thoughts, emotions, and words all at once.  I seem to bounce from one aspect of the gospel to another.  I am so small, and my heart too weak, to hold onto a gospel is so big, so vast, rich and deep.


It is like trying to view the vast panorama of Yosemite from Glacier Point all at once:  you just can't take it all in.  One moment you're looking at Half Dome, and another El Capitan, then the valley floor and then the vast wilderness beyond. You can step back and look at the whole thing, but not without sacrificing a more concentrated view on these other works of beauty.   Though we can keep the other parts in mind as we look, we can only respond in awe to the portion we are seeing at the moment... and even then, we are not grasping the fullness of its beauty.

A similar thing happens when we read the good news of  God manifest in the Scripture, especially when we read through so much of it as we have this week.  One moment we are focusing on God's grace in Christ's teaching, another in his atoning sacrifice, another in the preparation through God's prophets, and yet another in his holy call to his people (and we could go on and on).   Though we can try to keep the whole in mind, we can only respond to the one part set before us, and that one part is so beautiful, so grand, our being cannot contain the reality of it, nor the praise God deserves for it.

This, I have come to believe, is all part of the plan and is why reading through the whole of the Scriptures is so important.  As we walk through the Bible, God sovereignly works through his Word to bring us to the part of his character and his work we need at that moment.  Though we can never completely take it in, we can respond appropriate to what we can see.  (And this is what so many of the psalmists do!)  For our part, we must keep returning again and again to what He has said and what He has done as revealed in the Scriptures.

May we grow in our ability to know it and take it in "so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith-- that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God."  (Eph 3:14-19 pronoun changes mine).

Advent 2011, Week 2  

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