Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Other Words: Wild Love and Extravagant Mercy

I am hosting In Other Words today. Please share your thoughts through comments and your own posts on today's quote in Mr. Linky at the bottom:
What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn. ~Madeleine L'Engle

The yard next to ours has been neglected for years and the elderly owners have passed away. The new owners have a lot of work yet to do to make the house livable. So it stands sad and ugly except...

Smack against the front wall are several rose bushes.

The size and color of the roses on one bush captured my attention from half an acre away. This scraggly neglected bush boasts blooms that are a stunning pink. I looked at the roses for days, admiring them. Finally I grabbed my by-pass pruners and cut a stem with a fully open bloom and one bud.

I stripped some of the thorns off the stem, dipped it in rooting hormone and placed it in a pot on my rooting table. The open bloom is spectacular. I am becoming quite tiresome to my family as I continually point it out and try to convince them to get in close to inhale its heavenly fragrance.

I am not normally a rose person, as rose bushes require a level of attention that I have never had time to give. But this rose has special meaning to me. The man who planted it lived a life that will soon be forgotten...he drank heavily throughout his life, was mean and mouthy most of it until he developed brain cancer in his latter years. Suddenly, he became a humble and meek man-dependent on others for help in the simplest matters.

This man planted the roses at a time when he was prideful and boasting. He carefully tended them so they would present the best show in his landscaping. He cut all the trees out of his yard so that there was a unobstructed view of his house. Now all that is faded away with peeling paint and crumbling foundations. The new owner has already ripped out the front shrub border and he might need to yank out the rose bushes during his renovations.

Such exquisite beauty reduced to weeds....... I had to get a cutting and try to recapture the glory of these fragrant roses.

I have to confess that I am unable to take most important step necessary to preserve the plant and assure it roots successfully. In order to focus the plant's energy on developing a strong and deep root system, I should cut off the bloom and the bud. I am finding the sacrifice of the beauty too much...I can't do it.

"the wild wonder of God's love"

God did not hesitate to do whatever was necessary to bring to Himself and root us firmly in His love.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ~John 3:16-17
The beauty of an ordinary babe, born in the ordinary way--grown into an ordinary Man living an extraordinary life to redeem His creation:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends... ~John 15:13-14a
"All for love of us..."

This Creator knew from the beginning before He created anything that we would betray Him. He knew that the creation He breathed His own life would one day desire to kill Him. And yet He loved us:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5
"a love we don't even have to earn"
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us...made us alive together with Christ...For by grace you have been saved through faith...it is the gift of God. ~Ephesians 2:4, 5, 8
"so magnificent, so glorious"
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. ~Ephesians 1:13

So then Pilate took Jesus and scouraged Him And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head...

Pilate...again...said to them..."I find no fault in Him."

And He, bearing His cross went out to a place called...Golgotha, where they crucified Him.

So Jesus...said..."It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. ~John 19 selected
No "tidy Christianity with all answers given"

...Because this Wild Love and Extravagant Mercy defy definition in any way other than the cross of Jesus Christ!

While I am finding the idea of destroying the blossom on my rose cutting difficult, ultimately I will--probably within the next few days. To sooth myself, I will preserve the petals to use in potpourri or tea. But I know that the only way I can have an abundance of the Beauty is to do the right thing now, even though it means giving up the beauty I already have.

Lately, I find myself looking to a freer form of worship. So much demands my time and attention that I don't feel I have a moment to waste tied up in dogmatic Christianity. I desire to notice everything--to not let even a single joy or wonder go unrecognized. I don't have the patience to suffer the foolish separation among the churches of God caused by differences of interpretation.

Only two things matter:
1) Christ did not come to earth, take "on human vesture, [accept ]death and mortality, [be] tempted, betrayed, broken" to make a divided church--He came to give us unity and love through the Spirit.

2) Only two kinds of people exist - those who know God in an intimate fellowship and those who are completely separated from Him.

My responsibility is to share with those who know God the blessings He gives me and to tell those who don't know Him that He loves them wildly and extravagantly--and to love them as He does!


***1:30 p.m. eastern: Just a note to clarify any misunderstandings from my words today (as I responded to Deborah in the comments)--

I am not advocating giving up fellowship in church...more giving up the idea that anything more than the truth of the Gospel of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and how we respond to it, have any importance.

When it comes down to the dogma --- how one dresses, jewelry... tattoos... the music one listens to (I like praise and worship music and lite Christian rock)... those should not affect how we welcome fellow believers into our midst. I believe we should spend more time learning to walk like Jesus did than worrying whether to cut our hair or cover it! And I believe that we should focus on getting into the Word daily...not worrying about whether the version someone else uses is KJV, NASB, NIV. etc.***


Carolyn said...

Thank you, Patricia, for hosting today and for providing this challenging quote. An interesting quote from "Penguins & Golden Calves", though I am not familiar with the book or author. I enjoyed tracking down the quote and seeking God for His truth in this.
I appreciate hearing from your life and how God used this quote.
Blessings to your week

Deborah Shank's Ministry said...

Thank you for hosting IOW today but I totally disagree with your statements about church fellowship. I apologize if I have misunderstood what you posted.

God is not responsible for separating the church. That is man's decision when he takes his eyes off of God and focuses on what he wants instead of God's will. Christ died for the church. Why should He be punished for man's stupidity? God's Word instructs us to fellowship with one another in church. God never intended for us to stay at home and do things as we please. The church is God's house. I am a pastor's wife and minister. I am thankful that our congegation doesn't feel like they don't need dogmatic Christianity. I am thankful that they look forward to coming to the House of the Lord each week. I am thankful that they rejoice in being in God's House with other Christians. The church was established for believers so we can lift one another up and pray for one another. God never intended for us to be an island to ourselves. I pray that God will speak to your heart and remove any type of heart or pain that you have experienced from being a part of a church. Blessings friend.

MiPa said...

This week challenged me. Thank you for that. Lovely quote and lovely post. The image of cutting away the beautiful bloom in order to produce more resonates with my life. Bless you for hosting.

Patricia said...

I wasn't advocating giving up fellowship in church...more giving up the idea that anything more than the truth of the Gospel of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection have any importance.

When it comes down to the dogma --- how one dresses, jewelry... tattoos... the music one listens to (I like praise and worship music and lite Christian rock)... those should not affect how we welcome fellow believers into our midst.

I believe we should spend more time learning to walk like Jesus did than worrying whether to cut our hair or cover it!

Chocolate and Coffee said...

I totally agree with you. Serving Christ isn't about legalistic issues. It isn't about religion. It is about being transformed into the Godly person He has called us to be. Blessings to you Patricia.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Your thoughts are well thought-out and stated! I particularly appreciated what you said about being drawn to a freer style of worship, and focusing on unity within the body of Christ. Amen! I didn't have time to post today, but I'm so glad I stopped by to read yours.

Shelby said...

This is an AMAZING post and I completely agree with you about the tidy Christianity section.

I'm sure God will bless your efforts with the rose and the sacrifice of its beauty now for the beauty yet to come.

mamas*little*treasures said...

Hi Patricia - I actually posted this morning but then didn't get a chance to pop 'round here until just now. Sorry there was a misunderstanding . . . that happens sometimes ;o( But all in all I think we need to be reminded of what is the MOST important things in life, and it really is true that all of that other "stuff" can get us side-tracked. Amazing grace is available to you and to me and to everyone else, no matter how they are dressed, or how they cut their hair (or not), or the kind of music they sing to worship our Heavenly Father. Thanks for the great quote, and the your honest observations. Nina @ mamas*little*treasures

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Patricia, I'm coming in late but REALLY enjoyed this quote even though I can hardly wrap my brain around it. Your post certainly gave me a lot to chew on. And I agree, we need to agree on the ESSENTIALS of faith (Christ died to save us, He's the only way, etc) and "agree to disagree" so to speak on the non-essentials..

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

I enjoyed reading your blog this afternoon...Had some time to do some blog hopping...always enjoy finding new blogs!
Hope you will visit me. This month I am posting on our Disney trip.

Jensmere said...

Thanks Patricia for such a beautiful and thoughtful post. I love the image of cutting the bloom and bud....He left the splendors of heaven to come, suffer terrible abuse, and die for our freedom...freedom to grow and flourish under His grace!

Bless you,