Imagine, if you will, a classic tragic tale. (And if you think from the beginning that you know where it's going, hang in there. It might surprise you.)
Ours is the story of a prince (the best, most noble sort of prince) who dearly loves a peasant woman, though she seems incapable of returning his devotion. One day he hears that his beloved is sick, near death in fact, and that nothing can save her but a transfusion of his rare blood type. And her condition, he's told, is so desperate that it will take every drop of blood he has to save her. He will have to die.
Because of his love for her, he donates all of that blood. But as the last light of life is fading from his eyes, his beloved walks into the room. She takes in the scene, is told why the prince is dying, and responds condescendingly.
"Well, that was so very noble of you," she says with a pat on his arm. "I will do my best to remember your sacrifice, and I'll sing songs of praise to your memory every Sunday. But it was really a waste, you see. Noble, but unnecessary. You completely overreacted...my disease really wasn't that serious."
To her dying day, though she cherished sentimental thoughts of him, she remained mostly puzzled by the foolishness that had driven him to such extremes over nothing at all. She couldn't quite bring herself to honor his memory as she should, because she found his foolishness pitiable, and just a tad embarrassing.
I've been that peasant. Far more often than I care to admit. And I'm willing to bet that you have, too. Think not? Hear me out.
This morning I was in the mood to coddle one of my pet sins. And so I coddled away, not caring that I was doing so. It really wasn't a big deal.
My condition wasn't that serious.
Then I found myself in a conversation with one of my sons... a son who was once again revealing his love of "sin for sin's sake." He really loves badness because it's bad, and bad is fun.
As He so often does, my Prince of Peace convicted me by what came out of my own mouth. Here's the gist of what I heard myself saying:
"Son, Jesus wasn't a fool for coming and suffering the way He did, and dying the way He did, to save us from our sin. He didn't overreact to sin, as if sin really weren't the "big deal" that He thought it was. Look at Calvary and understand. Calvary paints a picture of how much God loves us, but don't miss what else it tells us. Calvary paints the very truest picture of just how horrible our sin really is. The God of the universe looked at our condition, lost in sin, and decided that we were in such a desperate state that it was worth Him coming and being tortured and dying to save us from that sin. Do you want to look at Him and tell Him He was a fool for doing that? If the God of all the universe says that our sin is that big a deal, then it really is. And one of the worst things our sin does to us is blind us to how bad it really is. And it blinds us to the glorious wisdom and love of the God who chose to save us from sin, at great cost to Himself."
I had to slow down as I heard the irony of what I was saying.
Whenever I coddle my favorite sin, calling it "no big deal," I am mocking the One who thought (or rather, who KNEW) it was worth His very life's blood to save me from it. I set myself up to think of Him only sentimentally, as the noble but pitiable fool who overreacted. I prime my heart to sing songs of praise condescendingly, instead of in awe and wonder of the love that saved me from my worst enemy...my own sin.
That's how I have unknowingly mocked Jesus sometimes, and I bet you've done it, too, without realizing it. I hope you'll join me in repenting and re-discovering the awe of what really transpired on Calvary, the horribly glorious truth of what we were really saved from. May it infuse our prayers, our praises, our lives with joyful love for Him, and an ever-growing hatred for the sin in our own hearts. May the Gospel, and the God of the Gospel, free us to walk in greater holiness today.
And may we love our wise, gloriously loving Prince as He deserves to be loved.
Because God, in His inscrutable wisdom, has chosen to put treasure in clay pots.
I can't be a superstar, but I can be a pot.
Remember the story of Gideon, and how he and his rag-tag army took on the Midianites? Their lights were hidden in clay pots until the right moment, and then they smashed the pots to let the light shine. God then miraculously routed the enemy before them.
God has given me plenty of good hard whacks in my life, and at times I've felt like he's completely smashed me for good. Maybe one of His purposes for doing that is to let some light out.
I don't have any light of my own, but He is the light, and it's my hope that He'll shine through just a bit on these pages, "that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us."