Thursday, March 15, 2012

Horror of Bland Love

We have been meditating on Jesus in Gethsemane. We have seen that a horror assaulted him, and the assault was killing him then and there. The terror was none of the usual suspects. It was the attack of sin and wrath. By this we mean, sin and wrath themselves, not just their symptoms or consequences. We have seen that, as our Mediator, by sympathy, Jesus felt what it is like to be us, to be sinners, while himself remaining holy. To feel sin as if it were his was killing him.
In the last posting we considered sin at heart, which is the failure to love God. The assault of sin made Jesus feel what it is like to not love his Father and the Holy Spirit. The sin of failing to love can be hateful, but it also can be lukewarm and indifferent. In Gethsemane, Jesus felt this part of our sin also.
In this posting we look at a particular aspect of the attack of sin: to be out of taste for God, for God to be a tasteless cup, to have only a bland love for God.

Triune Delight

The Persons of the Trinity are fully engaged in loving one another. God is neither cold nor lukewarm. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. Jesus said in prayer to his Father, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) Love is an eternal Triune flame.

See the glories and wonders, the pleasantness and comforts of such love. See from eternity the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, distinct persons, but One, one in the heavenliness of heaven. What made heaven heavenly was their union in love. Put that love anywhere and that place must be heaven!

What happiness to never have to wonder what the other person said behind one’s back, to never wonder what was meant by a comment, to never be unsure of the attitude behind a look of the eye, for an expression of the face to never be a riddle or an enigma, to trust, to believe all things, to bear all things, to hope all things, for there to be no wrongs or record of wrongs, no envy, no rivalry, no rudeness, no gossip, for every moment and every blink of consciousness to be all kindness and faith perfectly.

Pleasure in the Son

When John baptized Jesus, his Father said from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God wanted us to know three things. Jesus is his Son. The Son is beloved. The Father experiences pleasure in his Son.

At the transfiguration, the Father repeated those things and added another. He said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” We should hear him, why? Because he is God’s Son. Because he is beloved of God. Because God is pleased in him.

Because Jesus is pleasing to his Father, it is pleasant for the Father to hear him speak. Had we more pleasure in Jesus, hearing him would be more pleasing.

Pleasure in the Father

These are the delights, the pleasures of love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus enjoyed all this from eternity. He still enjoyed it in his Incarnation. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the Book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.’” (Psalm 40:7-8) “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16.11)

Tongue of Grace

God invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8). Watson say, “Grace changes a Christian’s aims and delights.” To the lovers of God, he is a sweet cup.

The tongue of grace savors God. Jesus tasted the sweetness of his Father fully, for Jesus was “full of grace.” (John 1:14). Jesus had the grace to taste, the grace to see. He had the grace to love, the grace to delight, the grace to enjoy, the grace to take pleasure in God. Because he had a fullness of grace, he had a fullness of enjoyment in God. Jesus was a hedonist, being full of pleasure in his Father. He had the grace to be a holy hedonist.

Hedonism has a bad name, but that is only because our hedonism is lazy and settles too cheaply for trinket-and-trash pleasures. Our hedonism believes the lies that taste sweet on the graceless tongue but are bitter in the belly. But with God are pleasures forevermore, righteous and true, honest and self-giving, and this worthy pleasure Jesus sought and knew.

Out of Taste

But in Gethsemane, sympathetically, he felt in his heart and conscience as if our sin were his. Because lack of love sums up and fulfills sin, in a short time, Jesus experienced sympathetically all our sin by feeling our lack of love as if it were his lack of love.

Remember we saw that when Jesus was “sore amazed,” in an ekthambeo, there was something outside himself that he saw, that appeared suddenly, that approached him, that already was approaching him when first he saw it, that got the drop on him, that forced itself upon him, that was a menacing horror. Besides everything else it was, it was this: to be out of taste for God, to feel, because of his great sympathy for us, our sinful lack of taste for God.

A Tasteless Cup

To the lovers of God, He is a sweet cup. To the haters of God, he is a bitter cup. To the lukewarm, to the indifferent, God is a tasteless cup. Jesus groaned earnestly to see whether “this cup” might pass. Besides the cup of God’s judgment, God’s wrath on sin that he drank by dying on the cross, “this cup” was immediate in Gethsemane: a bitter cup of hating God, or worse, a tasteless cup of being indifferent to God.

A tasteless cup. Contrast that to the blessedness of the eternal Trinity. Without the Trinity, we cannot know what riches Jesus stood to lose. This cup was a loss of riches. It was the loss of pleasure in his Father. From eternity, for him to live was to love, delight in, and take pleasure in his Father and the Holy Spirit, and to be loved, delighted in, and pleasing to his Father and the Holy Spirit.

Attack of Blandness

To see coming at him the blandness of our sense of God was a sudden and horrifying alarm at a terrific object. To see with our colorless eyes threatened to rend His nerves. To sympathize with our lackluster view of God threatened to freeze the blood in His veins.

When, by sympathy for us, he saw God dulled through our eyes, when he felt the carrying flame of love snuffed by his sympathy for our listless apathy toward his Father, he was troubled, disabled, feeble, astonished, dazed, having no soundness within. The ademoneo of Gethsemane was his being glutted into a severe depression by overfilling his mind with our boredom in God and feeling as if it were his boredom. The perilupos of Gethsemane was our lukewarmness passing over, under, around, and through Jesus’ conscience. As he was dying in ekthambeo, ademoneo, and perilupos, the angel strengthened him to suffer our distracted disinterest more. The angel strengthened him so that he could enter an agonia of our languid indolence to his Father.

To Jesus, the intemperate, holy hedonist whose whole life was to seek the pleasure of and pleasure in God, our tastelessness was a cause of immediate, precipitous death. For the experience of our sinful abstinence from God, our unholy temperance in love, our iniquitous moderation in delight, Jesus said to his three closest disciples, “I’m dying here.”

The disciples, who are the best of men, and the best of believers, lay asleep. Jesus tells them, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Watch against the nightmare of bland love.


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