Journal Entry // April 9, 2022
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.John 1:18 ESV
These past few months I have been in two different discussion groups that were both working through the book, Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland, at the same time. I read this book a couple of years ago and it played a dramatic role in reshaping my understanding of the heart of Christ for me and my understanding of my complete and utter dependence upon Jesus for every breath. One of the points in the book that struck me this past quarter during both discussion groups was this passage. I don’t remember if Dane actually used this passage, but this topic was itself was the key element. The topic being that the life of Jesus makes known to us the character and nature of the Father.
In my heart, I have a tendency to not only separate the Father and the Son but I will often think about them as diametrically opposed to one another. Now, I in no way believe this theologically, but in practicality I find myself thinking this way. I often catch myself thinking of the Father as this angry hater of my sin and this will then carry over to me being a sinner, therefore the Father is angry and hates me. I will then contrast Jesus as meek and mild and being ok with my sin and ok with me because he is full of compassion and mercy. I find this duality playing out in my mind so often that I continue to struggle with these hills and valleys of how I feel about myself and my relationship with God. I sometimes struggle with this fear of a wrathful God and then I sometimes struggle with being ok with sin because Jesus has paid for all of it.
So, I put the Father and the Son at odds within my thoughts, when this is so far from the truth. The Father and the Son are not at odds, they are in perfect holy alignment. Do I feel the love of Jesus for me and the compassionate grace he gives? This is the heart of the Father because Jesus makes the Father known to me. Does Jesus hate my sin? Of course he does, just as the Father hates my sin. It is good to bring these two aspects into alignment and think rightly about the Father and the Son. Jesus and the Father are in this together and the heart of Jesus is the same as the heart of the Father – gentle and lowly.
This has been crucial in my life to see that I need to have this same hatred of sin in my life. I need this same disgust with the pervasiveness of sin in my heart, in my soul, in my mind, and in my actions. I must have the eyes of Christ to see this insidious darkness tainting my each and every step. This sin is rebellion against the nature of God. It is my pride and arrogance welling up inside me to bring self-righteousness. I must be relentless in mortifying sin, killing it by the root deep within my heart. This is the view of Jesus and the Father. This is their will for me. Not playing at holiness in my life, but to be diligent and resolute in the battle to eradicate it from my being. In this endeavor, He will strengthen me. Not just daily, but moment by moment.
And then just as crucial is the understanding that it is the heart of Jesus and the Father to forgive when I fail. That as John said two verses earlier, there is grace upon grace found in Jesus. There is a vastness to the grace of God for me. I always thought of this grace as a well or an ocean that I could draw upon as need. That I could come to Jesus in repentance and faith and he would wash me in the vastness of this ocean of grace. But I learned that this is an inadequate picture of grace. It is not enough. It is too weak of a picture to demonstrate the work of grace in my heart because it implies that this vast ocean of grace is decreasing as I use it and could one day run dry. No, a better picture is thinking along the lines of grace upon grace. It is this vast ocean of grace that has no bottom or shore. I prefer to think of it like the universe. The vastness of the universe is still uncharted. The edges of the universe are still unknown. Just when we think we have seen the edges in the far off distance, we find that it still stretches even farther. This is the mercy and grace of Jesus. I will often think I have reached the limits of God’s grace by my continued failing with sin. Yet each and every time I repent and turn toward Christ, he brings mercy and grace to me. A thousand, a million, a billion times. His mercy and grace is uncharted. It is grace upon grace.
So, I love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not perfectly by any means, but in humility and weakness. Fighting hard against the world, the flesh, and the devil. In humility coming to the feet of Jesus and wetting his feet with the tears of my repentance and joy. Overcome by the mercy and grace of my Savior. Overwhelmed by the steadfast love and patience of my Father. Amazed and in wonder that the Spirit makes its dwelling place within me. Amen…