Freedom from Legal Love
We love because He first loved us
(1 John 4:19, NIV).
Want to grow in your ability to love? Love only comes from one source. You don'
t produce it on your own. Let Him continually love on you every day. Because His love flows to you – that is why it then spills out through you
. Never feel guilty about letting the Father lavish you with His sweetness. It'
s not just optional, but necessary. This is not a seasonal drink of refreshing so you'
ll be a better evangelist or church nursery worker. Drinking is a lifestyle.
Without faith in the gospel, an error is often made – it was common among some mystics. We to strive to love God more.
In fact, some who have been in renewal for years even try to make a “work” out of drinking in His presence! They erroneously think: I get closer to God the more I drink!
They are rightly aware of God’s ecstatic presence, but the yeast of the Pharisees still motivates them to approach God’s glory from a legal motivation.
Intimacy is Not a Work
One of the biggest misconceptions in the church today is that “love is a verb.” This is the title of popular songs and books on the market, but it'
s inaccurate. Yes, love does
verbs. Lovers do what He commands, so if you aren'
t acting right, it'
s a great indicator that you don'
t love. But love itself is not a work.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires
(Song of Sol. 2:7,NIV).
Rather than an action, love should be defined as a desire
Action divorced from desire is religion. We are warned about dead works as much as we are warned about idle hands. Jesus said clearly that, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15, NIV). Surely the qualifier of true love is that it manifests in service, just as faith manifests in works. But truth be told, Mary always picks the best seat in the house. There is something far beyond service that is imparted to us, as we enjoy the unforced rhythms of grace. True love makes our work seem nothing but a mere trifle. An easy byproduct of a new life. You'
re infused with energy. People around you may say, “Look at how you'
re serving the Lord!” But you are drunk with love. You didn'
t notice that you'
d lifted a finger. The greatest saints who paid the most tremendous price throughout church history were the same ones who could genuinely say, ”It was nothing. I was in love.”
I can never approach my wife and say, “Dear, I have washed the dishes and mowed the lawn for you for twenty years. I don'
you, but I have worked
for you. Therefore, I truly love you.” This over-emphasis on self-sacrifice and human effort is so silly that a child could see through it.
Never be bamboozled when the straining, striving crowd comes along chanting, “We've got to get hungry! We've got to get more passionate for God!”
s impossible for you to do that. In fact, those words usually mean someone is showing off for you. Don'
t let them induce you into their hernia-popping tension routines or work you into an emotional frenzy. You don'
t force yourself into love. Just be satisfied in the reality that God loves you unconditionally. Out of that will flow fruit that He
produces through you. One of my favorite John Piper quotes is his adaptation of the Westminster Catechism, saying:
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
Love-union is not about me drumming up love for God, which is impossible. The “first commandment” to love the Lord your God is technically still a legal
requirement – meaning it falls under the law
. It was a lawyer who was questioning Jesus about the law in Matthew 22, when this lofty rule was spoken. Sadly, there are tons of law lovers in the church today! People trying to love God just because they are supposed to. Granted, loving God is definitely the “greatest” commandment. But it is still a commandment
. It is the grand summation of the law. And we know that law does not save us.
Did you know there is something greater than the greatest commandment? Something bigger and better than loving God?
You are not saved by your love for God. You are saved by His love for you.
You are not saved by your faith toward God. You are saved by His grace
, which produces His faith
His love for you
is greater than the law. The cross is the fountainhead of all love. If you won'
t accept that He accepts you ... if you don'
t allow Him to wash your feet like Peter ... then you have no part in Him. Only in allowing the Father to pour His love into you, will you ever have love to give back to Him. Until you taste His goodness, love will always be a duty and never a ravenous enjoyment.
The Mystical Marriage
I do not work to become united to my wife. Our union was consummated and sealed on our wedding day. Now, we are in a continual state of enjoying one another. I don'
t believe the religious lies that tell me marriage is hard work. I would effortlessly lay my life down for my wife because I enjoy her. I thrive on her company. We cohabitate. Everything I have is hers. The same is true with the Lord. Love is the bond that ties us. Spurgeon comments on this bond of love:
The saints were from the beginning joined to Christ by bands of everlasting love. Before He took on Him their nature, or brought them into a conscious enjoyment of Himself, His heart was set upon their persons, and His soul delighted in them. Long ere the worlds were made, His prescient eye beheld His chosen, and viewed them with delight. Strong were the indissoluble bands of love which then united Jesus to the souls whom He determined to redeem. Not bars of brass, or triple steel, could have been more real and effectual bonds. True love, of all things in the universe, has the greatest cementing force, and will bear the greatest strain, and endure the heaviest pressure: who shall tell what trials the Savior's love has borne, and how well it has sustained them? Never union more true than this. (Spurgeon, “Bands of Love or Union to Christ.”)
Throw out all the bad theology you'
ve ever heard that says your wedding to Christ is a future
thing. Also toss out all the jargon that says it'
s your job to spot stain and iron your own wedding dress. The Blood of Jesus works wonders on bridal garments. Consummation happened on the cross. You'
re hitched. The apostle says we'
re flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. There'
s no annulment to that marriage! Now you enjoy the party. The wedding supper
is the now and future continuous celebration feast of love.
You are Not a Future Bride
Consummation does not happen in a series of ecstatic experiences. Many mystics were mistaken in thinking that their contemplative journeys brought them into divine wedlock. Do not labor in mental ascent, trying to present yourself to Him. You enjoy Him now
as a wedded bride in ecstatic communion. How? Christ toiled for you just as Jacob labored for Rachel.
Marriage is one of the most mystical symbols of our union to God. The mystics used the marital metaphor to describe contemplative experiences, whereas the reformers used marriage to describe the union that flows from faith. Communion is the daily expression of what faith acquires.
The Lord issued Israel a writ of divorce. She was unfaithful. Her marriage contract – the law – was incapable of captivating her heart. But now, we who are Christ'
s spouse have a better promise. We will never know divorce, for He says, “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hos. 2:19). This word of betrothal is now written on our hearts.
After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church
(Eph. 5:31-32, NIV).
The very reason God instituted the sacrament of marriage – for this reason
the apostle says – was to illustrate the unio mystica between God and man. The siren of earthly romance is just a sign
of a deeper, richer homeward call. Song of Solomon is parabolic of union with Christ that is far more profound than a man and a woman share. Our union with Him is pleasurable. Even the blessed physical merger of natural spouses is indicative of a higher
pleasure we experience in ecstatic unio mystica. Yet our union with God is utterly trans-sexual
– in this I define the word as meaning “beyond sexual.” Our relation with the Lord is more exalted and higher than the human senses or physical sexuality could begin to conceptualize. Our natural senses alone are not adequate to fully comprehend the eternal weight of this Glory – it is likewise trans-sensory
Of course, we can now enjoy and feel
His manifest presence, thanks to faith. But your highest and most transcendent experience is still just sniffing the cork, compared to the eternal sea of communion wine offered to you. Understanding this is helpful. We never need to drum up the feelings in order to acquire faith. Feelings and subjective experiences are glorious byproducts, not prerequisites to faith.
This article contains excerpts from John Crowder’s new book: Mystical Union.
Order a copy by clicking HERE