Thursday, 28 August 2008

Falling in Love... with God

This is the last part of an assignment for my Trinity@Night class, Head, Heart and Hands: The Christian Life. For the first installment, read here. The second installment is here. The third installment is here.

The topic is: You have been invited to give a talk where you are sure the audience will include Christians who believe what you believe but also people from a wide variety of denominations as well as some non-Christians. The topic that has been assigned to you is this: The Impact of the Gospel on the Daily Life of a Wife and Mother.

Christianity is not merely a life of obedience to rules made by an awesome King. Our hearts are also involved.

The gospel says Christians have been given that which we could never earn: forgiveness from sin and entrance into eternal life. The thought of this gracious gift makes us thankful. It fills us with joy and hope. It inspires us to praise our generous God. This is the third implication of the gospel, that we will love God.

This third element of the Christian Life is, as Amy said, “difficult to articulate because it is mysterious”. Loving God is something God requires of us (Deuteronomy 6:5), yet something that He himself prompts within us. (Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 11:19-20 and other similar OT passages give promises of the complete experience of this “new heart” which is only partially experienced by present-day Christians eg Paul's experience recounted in Romans 7:22-23.) Our inner life of devotion to God is expressed outwardly (Romans 12:1) in ways that both define our love and extend it. The thoughts of our hearts dwell upon God and His gospel and we articulate our love for God in the words of our prayers and songs. (For many Christians today, prayer and singing are perhaps the most familiar modes of expressing love for God.)

We praise God for who He is and thus see His attributes more clearly (eg the doxology of Romans 11:33-36). We thank God for what He has done and realise the magnitude of His provision (eg the well-known Psalm 23 and less personal Psalm 147). We confess our sin and ask God’s forgiveness and our sense of our sinfulness – and His forgiveness - grows (eg Psalm 51). We request God’s help, admitting our reliance and depending upon Him more each day (eg Psalms 3, 13 and 143). In doing all these things, we find that our regard and love for God grows, even as it is given expression.

Loving God feeds back to the other two elements of our Christian Life. Loving God causes us to want to know God better and obey God more. In this fact all three elements of the Christian Life, lived in response to the gospel of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ, come together.


Mrs. Edwards said...

When do you give the talks? I'll be praying for you. Too bad I can't come and listen!

We are just a few weeks away from starting BSF again. This year will be The Life of Moses. Are you near the end of your Matthew study?

It is always fun thinking alongside you, even on a different continent and hemisphere.


Sharon said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement, Amy. I was talking to a friend just yesterday about how blessed I am to have you and Andrea to 'converse' with.

We are up to lesson 18, I think. (I missed this week because I am down in Albany at my MILs farm: we're farm-sitting while they visit Jeff's brother.) So we're two thirds of the way there. I am looking forward to the weeks we'll spend on the crucifixion (and all the surrounding events). Thinking about what I wrote for this post, I am sure that in spending so much time dwelling upon Christ's atonement, my love for God will soar!

I don't actually get to do this as a talk unfortunately, just have to submit it in written form. I'm glad I was able to share it with you, Andrea and Jeff at least, via this medium. I have learnt heaps and don't want my learning to be limited to what my lecturer gets to read!

~ Sharon

Sharon said...

PS, Do you mind if I quote you in my final product? I'm footnoting your quote as "Amy Edwards, private correspondence, August 2008". Do I have your permission?

Thanks again for all the feedback,
~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

Of course you may quote me! Although it is hard for me to believe that I really brought much to the discussion, but what an honor!

Yes, during the BSF focus on the final chapters of Matthew, I saw several things with fresh eyes, which I attribute to the Holy Spirit's work in me. I especially remember the study of Jesus in the garden wrestling with the will of God and submitting to it being meaningful.

I teach Children Desiring God curriculum in 3rd grade (8-9 year olds) Sunday school, which has really helped me to keep an overall perspective of the plan of redemption. We study "In the Beginning...Jesus" which spends a year of Sunday School investigating the mystery of Christ's death and "Who killed Jesus?" I love telling the kids in the beginning of the year, "Many Christian adults don't know the answer to this!" They feel so grow-up and big.

The answer is that God killed Him, and the evidence is in every OT story, which we spend the year studying. Gathering "evidence" until finally in the last six weeks we solve the mystery and show that God planned it all along.

It helps to always remember that we didn't kill Jesus. He didn't have to die. We could have been left to die in our sins. It was the will of God to do it. Anyway...I'm sure my hastily composed comment doesn't do it justice!

Take care and keep corresponding!

Ruth said...

I hope you had a great trip back home.

Your talk is great. Very clear and yet still captivating. It is a pity that you can't give the talks, as it would be great to hear them all, but of course it would take too long with such a big class. It really makes me want to do the study too! It sounds great.