It is strange to be at home today while my family is at church. I’m not feeling very sick, but I am tired and weak enough to know that it would be overwhelming to go to service. So, here I sit.
It is a humbling experience to be sick – it’s hard on my pride. As I was reading and praying this morning, I thought that in the Big Picture, me at my best and me at my weakest is not really much different. In fact, the strongest, most powerful man in the world is only a hairbreadth away from the weakest child on the streets of Calcutta. We human beings are weak – morning mists, the flower of grass.
I’m reading through the Servant Songs in Isaiah. Some verses from today’s reading stood out and led to this blog post:
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another – Isaiah 48:10-11
We are glory hogs – I am a glory hog. That profanes God’s name, even if we are “doing good” and externally worshipping God. Adversities of various kinds are God’s merciful tools to bring His people perspective. The Refiner’s fire not only serves to purge out impurities in relation to morality, but imbalances in perspective. God is God and I am not. God is indispensable, I am not. God has a sovereign plan for His universe. I don’t own a universe, and my plans don’t always go my way.
God is much bigger than I think. The reason I called God’s refining fire merciful is that God gets bigger in my understanding with each setback, loss or failure. This leads to greater contentment and joy. Why? Because I know that God loves me. How do I know that? Because God Himself stepped down from inapproachable light and took on weak human flesh in order to live for me, die for me and rise from the dead to defeat sin and death for me. To what end? That I might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever!
Without the Gospel – particularly the cross – there is no way that I could have any comfort in reflecting upon God’s vastness and greatness. It is only as God Himself steps down and comes to me in human flesh that the great chasm between us is bridged.
This is the unique message of Christianity. In the Christian story, God’s greatness is fully expressed in its incomprehensible weight of glory. On the other hand, man’s weakness and corruption is expressed with bitter honesty as we confess our hopeless condition. The Good News is that Jesus Christ steps in as the Mediator – fully God and fully man – to reconcile the world to God.
I can be content staying home from church today. God is looking after things just fine without me.