Overwhelmed and agape in awe: what did I ever do to deserve such a blessed existence, to deserve people who love me so tirelessly and tenderly and above all to deserve a God who loves me so much I can’t begin to imagine how much?
The answer, of course, is nothing. And the beautiful thing is that all I am to do with this love is to love others with this same love, this same intensity of agape.. Sometimes, somehow I get the notion that Godly love is simply an unchanging constant which I acknowledge and give thanks for daily but I’m seeing that it’s so much more and more brilliantly complex: it’s the searing pain on the cross, yet also the breeze that brings perfect piece to the most anxious of hearts; it’s a fire that burns with ferocity and the meekness of a lamb who was slain, and as a song puts it “you are the shelter from the rain and the rain to wash me away“. God is love and this love of this God is not any particular thing: not an emotion to be felt or a fact of which we are convicted of or a particular person or an unexpected blessing, it is in everything and everywhere. In the pain. In the joy. In the dreaded, numb, absence of both. That is God’s love.
And what is our part? We can’t run away from it but we can choose to be blind to it and choose only to see ourselves and how life is not working out (for us). We cannot possibly escape to where God can’t see or hear us, but we can choose to be deaf and choose only to hear the shouting and the screeching of the world, the hissing of the devil, and our boastful voice which we have learned to love hearing. We can ignore God’s word and instead fill our hearts with ideas and values and standards that are low and utterly confused. And lastly we can be so conditioned to living such a dreary existence that we can deceive ourselves into being contented such a life with God’s love conspicuously absent from it. Which is what I’ve done a lamentably large number of times. But this love that I cannot and you cannot ever sufficiently describe is so powerful that all it takes is a glimpse, a heartbeat, a momentary revelation of its sheer magnitude to break you and bring you to your knees.
So what should our part be? It’s like this… I have a particular lesson in a particular room which stinks so unbearably it gives me a migraine. But by the end of the hour, I don’t smell a thing no matter how hard I sniff (this is true!). I don’t even want to get out of my comfortable seat though the lesson has ended, because I don’t see a reason to. So I hang around, talk to people, ask questions, etc. Until someone opens the door and I get a whiff of the sweet, clean, outside air and think: Wow. I want to get out, because now I see that it’s infinitely better out there. Obviously the clean/smelly air is supposed to symbolize being rooted in God and being rooted in the world. But the point here is, we as Christians are to be the door-openers. Huh? Yes, the door opener. The one whose actions give people around us an idea of what Godly love is supposed to resemble. No, I’m not saying that people are saved by our human effort. It is God who waters and nourishes the flower of faith, but we can sow the seeds, so to speak. It is nothing short of denial to end up believing that our actions (or passivity) have no direct impact on the faith of those around us!
So yeah. I’m not sure how I winded up talking about evangelism. I think I’m convincing myself more than anything else! Hm. So evangelism, far from being a discrete and confusing “aspect” of the Christian life is instead the natural overflow of love that we have so graciously received; it should by all means be a reflexive radiation of Christian joy and urge to spread it around, rather than a grit-my-teeth (I KNOW!! 😀 YING4 ZHE4 TOU2 PI2!) get down to it blah blah we are called to be active sharers etc. SIGH why so tough, God?? kind of thing. Still, the lack of positive emotion or perhaps a period of dryness is not a reason to stop “overflowing”; instead it is a testimony of how our faith, and of how God continues to love and discipline us in every season.
And of course, prayer is compulsory 🙂