Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Loving Into Lovability"

I was reading this blog post by John Piper called "Consider Loving Someone Into Lovability" where he discusses that God justifies His people as righteous before they demonstrate any goodness. God loves them and then, after such love, their heart is changed.

Piper then poses the question, "Can we do the same? Can we, by God's grace, love someone into lovability?"

What a difficult task. It's so much easier when someone is hard to love to just walk away. It's so much easier to make our relationships consumer like and avoid those are not very fun to love and serve.

When I read Piper's blog, two things came to mind:

First, if God looks upon me as now sinless because of the sacrifice that Christ has made, it means He also looks upon the person I find difficult to love as sinless perfection as well. Those I am frustrated or angry with are perfect in God's eyes. They are made in His image. They have been perfected by Him and His sacrifice. If we are both on the same plane in God's sight, then finding myself superior to someone is not a possibility. And if I do not feel superior in any way to that person, they become much easier to love.

The second thing that I thought of was how very gracious God is with us. We find it so difficult to love those around us who we feel don't "deserve" our time, effort and energy and yet we are unphased by the amount of sacrifice that has been poured into us when we were considered unlovable. We are so hard hearted that we look upon Christ's blood and sacrifice as cheap. Christ believed that in our totally depraved and sinful state, we were worth dying for. Yet we have difficulty extending grace, patience and love to that family member who is overly opinionated. To the checkout lady who we feel always gives us attitude. To the friend who always complains.

We know that love is supposed to be sacrificial but we often find it harder to make the small day to day sacrifices of loving those we find "difficult" than to make big sacrifices for those we feel are serving us well.

But the more we meditate on 1) our lack of superiority because of the Gospel and 2) the abundant Grace that has been given us by Jesus, hopefully(!) the easier it will become.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warrior Women

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him."
-Genesis 2:18

A friend of my husband’s asked us if we would be willing to host a Bible study using our church’s study entitled Sex, Singleness and Marriage. It was a seven week study that unpacked some of the baggage surrounding all of these topics and, undoubtedly, brought up a lot of questions while it was answering others.

One of my favorite things that I learned, however, was regarding the above verse. I had perused several marriage books/articles/sermons about this verse and the verses surrounding it and listened to various opinions about what it all meant. What does it really mean to be someone’s “helper”? And am I only supposed to be a “helper” if I’m married? And frankly, being a “helper” sounded a bit boring.

From the Redeemer study:
“The English word “helper” is, unfortunately, a rather weak word. It connotes an “assistant”—
someone who is less capable and who simply runs errands and does menial tasks. However, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used in the Bible almost every other time to describe God himself, in a military context. For example in Deuteronomy 33:29, we read: Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places. All the citations of “ezer” (helper) in the Bible (including this one from Deuteronomy) illustrate that a helper is someone who helps out of strength, to fill up a need that is lacking in the other. And the Bible’s consistent use of “ezer” with a military reference has led to a consideration of women as warriors working alongside men to bring about God’s kingdom here on earth....

“For example, a broad interpretation of v. 18 is that:
God created the woman to be a warrior alongside the man in advancing, God’s kingdom throughout the earth. This is every woman’s calling, regardless of her age, marital status, or circumstances. Every woman is an ezer from birth to death. We are warriors for God’s purposes alongside our brothers in Christ. (Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth, 211)”

If “every woman is an ezer from birth to death” then I should be a warrior for all of the men in my life. My husband, my brother, my father. The men in my life and at my church.

Around the same time that we were going through this study, I was reading through The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. It made me think that the greatest way I can be a warrior for my spouse and the other men in my life is to be a prayer warrior. To take very seriously my role and responsibility as someone who is to be fighting for them…. And to fight with prayer.

I’m now trying to develop a habit of praying for the men of my life with a warrior mentality. With a mentality that acknowledges that part of the reason I was created is to fight for them in the battle of life because they need the support of their warrior wife, daughter, sister, friend.

They need the support of an Ezer.

(P.S. The picture is of Joan of Arc.)