Monday, October 19, 2009
Absence Does What?
If by saying, "... makes the heart grow fonder," they mean, "... makes the heart grow more achy, then they're right. When I'm longing for someone's presence, especially when it will likely never be restored, thoughts of that person don't leave me feeling more fond, it leaves me with an aching, even painful, lump in my chest. Could that be my heart? Something about longing for another isn't quite right, at least for a Christ-believer. For such longing says volumes about my priorities, where my affections lie. By saying, "I long for you in your absence; not being with you breaks my heart," am I not esteeming you too highly, with a love that belongs only to God? My excuse is, "I can't help missing you. After all, I'm only human." Yes, Jesus died for such adulterous humans because of his longing for intimacy with us. That longing cost far more than his earthly life. The way he died, his divine glory forsaken, his divine life abandoned, his divine gift scorned, taught us what love really means. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20) Though we can't see Jesus' literal body, his promise means we needn't long for his presence, even if we long for his return. "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you." (Joh 14:15-17) Sometimes we believers fall into the trap of worldly observations, and forsake knowing him simply because we think we can't see him. And why can't we see him? We aren't looking correctly. Knowing Christ opens our eyes to his manifestations throughout his creation. The art collector who loves the work of a certain artist sees the artist in his work, and loves the artist for his creation. And seeing the artist by carefully observing his work produces the intimacy of the artist's presence. What art collector fails to see the artist in his work? Only those who collect his work for speculation, hoping its monetary value will increase so they can resell it for a tidy profit. There is no love for the artist or his work. In the same way, "Christians" who see nothing more in Christ than his possibilities love nothing more than what he can do for them. And such false believers will eventually discover disillusionment over false expectations. Most, if not all, militant unbelievers are simply bitter because they've "tried that Christianity stuff and it didn't do anything" for them. Wrong priorities and wrong expectations prevented their experiencing Christ in all his glory. Those who view Christ's physical absence as anything but the promise of his glorious return need new eyes, provided and empowered by his Holy Spirit to see him even now, in his church and his creation.