I'm reading a book entitled, "A God entranced vision of all things: The legacy of Jonathan Edwards" and it is wonderful. I find myself rebuked and encouraged by this man's lifelong passionate, disciplined pursuit of pleasure in God. When I compare myself to him in the realm of discipline I look like a 3yr old. When I compare myself to him in relation to how much He enjoyed His Savior I have no words to express my immaturity. I am finding such encouragement from this book (I think partly because I've been so off kelter with our past month that my devotional time has fallen pathetically behind....working on that).
Let me hit you with a few broad things to think about:
From the first chapter concerning his relationship with God:
"Edwards remarkably managed to hold together what we tend to split apart. He saw Christianity as engaging both head and heart, while much of popular evangelicalism suffers greatly from pendulum swings in this regard."
More on this in Edward's own words,
"....God glorifies himself toward the creatures also in two ways" 1. By appearing to...their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself...God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by it's being rejoiced in."
I love this because I see so many people just leave off the knowledge of God for some "experience" or "feeling" and then I see others (and have experienced myself) who academically know the Bible but have no joy or experiential relationship with Jesus. Edward's saw the union of head and heart as a both/and as opposed to an either/or.
Concerning overcoming sin, Edward's says that joy in God is the only suitable weapon:
"Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn't. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. And the reason it fails is that the power of sin comes from its promise of pleasure and is meant to be defeated by the superior promise of pleasure in God, not by the power of the human will. Willpower religion, whenever it succeeds, gets glory for the will. It produces legalists, not lovers."
Here's the best yet....and it smacks modern day, man centered Christianity in the face.
"The chief blessing that we receive, our greatest good, comes to us in God. In other words, the greatest blessing that God gives us when He saves us is himself."
In Edward's own words,
"God himself is the great good [the redeemed] are brought to the possession of and enjoyment of by the redemption. He is the highest good and the sum of all good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory."
Read over that again if it blew by you. What Edward's is saying is that God himself is our greatest blessing. God...nothing else. This is why the prosperity gospel is so horrible; it turns everything upside down. No longer is God himself the treasure; rather He becomes your key to getting cars, wealth, health, whatever. Watch the John Piper video on the prosperity gospel that I've got on the blog and you'll see what I'm saying.
Christin and I talked last week and we both agreed that our last several weeks here in the Lbk should be spent touching base with all the wonderful relationships God has blessed us with here. Since then we've had some sweet time with friends just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. It has made me think about how good God is in that He created us as relational beings that can find joy and intimacy with one another. Pretty sweet.
I've also been really flabbergasted (I guess that's a word), humbled, and uplifted by all the encouraging words that my church family, friends, and co-workers have shared with me.
Pray for us.... it is stressful moving a family of 5 halfway across the country.