1 Peter 1:22-25: A Creative, Wild, and Fierce Dependence
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
24 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
What is the Word that remains forever? The Word that cannot be unsaid?That cannot be unspoken?
That the Christ who isn't dead will always be the Christ who Died. Resurrection does not unspill the Blood. And the Feast for Sinners cannot be sent back to the kitchen.
On Fridays I sit outside a church with some tables and some coffee. Today we stood under a tarp in a thunderstorm and when the wind howled, I thought of the howling of my mind. The torrent of thoughts in the torrent of rain. I thought of the desires of my heart. Why does everyone else get to change their hearts and minds when it seems I only get to withstand them?
I think of myself in this tent. It is good to be under this tent and not somewhere else. A place to stand against the storm.
It is the preached Word, Peter says, that remains forever. The Word of the Cross. Provision made for Sinners.
The Word is the place to stand against the thoughts of my mind and the cries of my heart. A place to stand when our thoughts and feelings scare us. A place to overcome by not being overcome.
The wind picks up, the rain. It is important that I stand here under this tarp and not out there. Maybe that is what trust is, standing here instead of there. I think on trust: how it is fundamental, crucial and yet not that big a deal. I’m standing here, hands in my pocket, saved.
But I am not saved by standing. I am saved by having a place to stand. A place to stand out here where the wind howls.
The Word, this place to stand, is Christ’s death and resurrection. But what kind of shelter is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
We must be careful before we say that Word is a friend. It is Word that stands with and against us.
The Word that says Christ died for us makes us die with Christ. We are stripped bare by the same Word that clothes us. The Shelter is, sometimes, no shelter.
The Word that announces Christ’s Death and Resurrection creates a Wilderness, a Struggle, in the human heart. It is what I see in my ministry. People struggling with their divided selves. It is sometimes all I see.
The Word is not interested in thoughts and feelings. It’s interest is in one thing: Trust. The Word that lives and abides is always working in our hearts to create a fierce, wildly vulnerable, and creative dependence on the person of Christ. And it is willing to put our thoughts and our feelings unto confusion to get it.
The dependence, as I’ve grown, has only gotten fiercer and wilder, more intense, more vulnerable. More trembling and shaky because more and more is being risked by trusting Christ. Christ is being trusted with more. And more is more is being overthrown by trusting Christ.
The Cross planted outside the gates of Jerusalem, is planted in the heart of a sinner named John Bryant. And this fierce and wild vine of Trust, the creation of this fierce and lovely Word, is messing everything up. My plans, my goals, my time, my thoughts, my feelings.
When thoughts and feelings threaten to overwhelm, I close my eyes and see myself slamming my fists on that cross and cursing, howling. My mind unravels and I say hurtful horrible things into the wood and nailed feet.
And, later, wonder how it is that I am allowed to do that. To yell at God like that, to get away with being that way. Getting away with being, dare I say it? Unstable? Not put together. No happy. Very upset. How do I get to be like that?
“Because,” the Lord says, “my death is yours and you are mine.”