Biola University, one of the nation’s top-ranked evangelical university focused on biblically centered education, has asked Nigel Morris to contribute an original devotional to it annual Lent Project. The Lent Project is part of the University’s Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts, and was created to bring a way of bringing focused prayer, meditation and thought on Christ and His sacrifice during the Lent Season, which is from March 5 to April 28. Each devotional combines spiritually uplifting music, inspiring art and a devotional designed to bring all believers into remembrance and reflection on this most Holy season.
Nigel contribution was written for the April 16, 2019 devotional and is entitled “THE ENORMITY OF GOD’S LOVE.” The devotional targets our need to make the Cross the center nexus of our spiritual life. It is there we find the infinite power of God’s love and His desire to bring us into right relationship.
The devotional is beautifully enhanced by Zbigniew Preisner’s Lament from his album Diaries of Hope, and also by Paul Reuben’s 1635 painting of Christ Between the Two Thieves.
THE ENORMITY OF GOD’S LOVE
by Nigel Morris
It’s difficult for many of us, if we’re honest, to truly grasp the enormity of God’s love for us, is it not?
The first chapter of a book entitled Surrender to Love by David Benner begins with this provocative statement, “Take a moment and try a simple exercise. The results will tell you a great deal about your spiritual journey. Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind? When I ask people to do this a surprising number of them say the first thing they assume God feels is disappointment. Others assume God feels anger. In both cases people are convinced that it is their sin that first catches God’s attention. I think they are wrong and I think the consequences of such a view of God are enormous.”
Perhaps as Brenner wrote, it’s because we may feel we’ve disappointed Him in some way or He’s angry with us. It could be that we feel guilty or ashamed because of something we’ve done, or it could just be we’ve taken our eyes off an event that has grown so familiar to us that it’s lost its impact; I’m speaking of the cross of Christ
As Christians we have certain practices, we read the word, worship, serve, attend a group, give of our time energy and money, but as beneficial as those things might be they are not at the core of our faith. So what is? Oswald Chambers put it like this: “The center of salvation is the cross of Jesus and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened-but the crash is on the heart of God.”
It is there we are delivered from both the penalty and the power of sin; it is there we will always find mercy and superabundant, lavish grace; the utterly irresponsible grace of God poured out on us who deserve the exact opposite.
My iniquity, my sin, my stuff is all I ever brought to the table in this deal; I was utterly helpless before the Lord; powerless to escape sin, powerless to escape death, powerless to resist the snake that was coiled around my heart. Jesus turns up on the scene and everything changes.
N. T. Wright paints this picture in his book Simply Jesus: “The pain and tears of all the years were met together on Calvary. The sorrow of heaven joined with the anguish of earth; the forgiving love stored up in God’s future was poured out into the present; the voices that echo in a million human hearts, crying for justice, longing for spirituality, eager for relationship, yearning for beauty, drew themselves together into a final scream of desolation.”
Imagine God thinking about you today. What do you assume he feels when you come to mind?
The real answer to that question can always be found at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. The first lines of the hymn from the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival capture it well:
Here is love vast as the ocean,
Loving-kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our ransom,
shed for us His precious blood.
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at your presence,
As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil-
to make your name known to your adversaries,
that the nations may tremble at your presence.
When you did awesome things which we did not expect
You came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
— Isaiah 64:1-3
Vineyard Church Pastor