Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Better to Receive Than Give ...

This post was generated by a comment that my friend Julie Morris - the grace champion - sent me on Facebook. I was feeling pretty grotty and miserable. I've had a week where I've leant loads of money to people and just generally felt used and abused. So very much in the flesh, I wrote my status as saying something rather grumpy like "whoever said it's better to give than receive obviously never gave!". But Julie brought it back to God and all day I've been thinking as to actually is the proverb; "It is better to give than receieve" - an Old Covenant statement?

Is the essence of the New Covenant that God wants us to realise that actually it's more blessed to RECEIVE (from Him) than to try and give to Him?

All day I've been thinking about the Cross. And all the brilliant Cross-centred quotes I've heard have been going through my head. Here's a few;

"Love constrained the Son of God to go to the Cross" - John Hosier

"What is the obvious clear message of what happened on the Cross? Simply this - that Jesus was crushed so that God would never crush you. Jesus was pierced so that God will never ever pierce you with sorrows or with sickness or with poverty. Jesus was punished so it is a guarantee that God will never ever punish you! Jesus was made a guilt offering by God so you will never feel guilty" - Rob Rufus

"Paul gloried in the ‘old rugged’ cross not in nostalgic reflection but in triumph and glorious emancipation" - Terry Virgo

Everything that happened - everything Christ did on the Cross was for US. Why does Christianity persist in refusing to accept that? Why has law so successfully ingrained in us that we somehow have to "pay God back"? I wonder why Jesus spoke in the Gospels about "becoming like children". The funny thing about children is that they never have any trouble receiving gifts. Just watching my beautiful nieces and nephews at Christmas proves that! The smiles that light up their faces just does something right inside me when they rip open the paper!

I was driving back from work listening to CCK Brighton's latest wonderful album; "Have You Heard" and the most heavenly song by Paul Oakley and Lex Loizides hit me like an Exocet missile. Funnily enough Julie's latest post bemoaned the lack of true grace songs. I think this beautiful song - "This is for Me" - will fit the requirements Julie! I can't urge you enough to get this album and listen to this song again and again. Even better CCK have made this particular track available free off their website.

Here's the words;

"How can I resist, this love that draws my heart,
This Voice that calls my name, I'll never be the same again,
And how could I deny, this King who took my place,
The One who bore my shame, I run into these arms of grace;

How can I refuse? I choose to follow You!

This is for me, this blood of Christ, washing all my stains,
Breaking all my chains! This is for me! This death He died,
Taking all my sin - giving me a chance to live again.

I choose to follow You! You gave Your life for me - I choose to follow You!
Jesus I believe".

I remember when I was in my home church in Dunstable a number of us wanted to see Darlene Zschech's song; "My Jesus, My Saviour". The elders (rapidly becoming anti-charismatic at the time) wouldn't allow it to be song because it was "too personal". Sadly they missed the whole point. The whole point of the Gospel. The whole point of everything. Another line in the same CCK album by Stuart Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty says;

"Creation gazed upon His face, the ageless One in time's embrace.
Unveiled the Father's plan of reconciling God to man".

I wonder still on Julie's post whether the reason why there are so few "grace" worship songs is because the church has embraced the "debtor's ethic" worldwide and is suspicious of any songs that sing of our feelings and our emotions that are evoked at the wonder of the Gospel. Maybe song-writers and theologians need to learn how to become like children again and learn;

The joy of receiving.


Nick Cameron said...

I am loving the 'Have Your Heard' album and am with you on the 'this is for me' song - it just melts my heart!

Thanks for another heart felt post dear Dan!
N x

dave bish said...

There's a kind of 'too good to be true' unbelief going on about grace that makes people protest and offer to pay it back.. so much better to revel and rejoice in the gift and so magnify its worth with our joy and freedom.

jul said...

I thought I left a comment earlier! Oh well, I guess it didn't work...anyway, great post Dan! I love when you talk grace.

Peter Day said...

Great, great post. I think you're right; the church has embraced the debtors ethic and, although many songs do marvel at what He has done, so many of them move onto what we "therefore" need to do for Him.

I think that is a mistake - God didn't do what He did in Christ so that we would spend a lifetime in trying desperately to repay Him. He did all that He did so that we could enjoy Him (and, as Piper reminds us, us enjoying Him brings Him the most glory).

Lori said...

I don't even remember how I stumbled onto your blog but this sealed the deal for me...Grace, The Power to Change by Jim Richards completely restructured my view of true grace, I have been living differently ever since.

I'm not sure why the church is caught up in works but goodness they are...Christ certainly set us free from the law and the constraints of it...keep speaking Christ crucified...LOVE IT! Lori

Dan Bowen said...

Well Lori, I'm delighted you did stumble on this blog - welcome, especially to a fellow nurse!!! :)

Your blog looks awesome and I can't wait to get reading. Thanks so much for the encouragement - it means so much!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Lydia thought I should let you know how much I appreciate you as I wrote here

Dan Bowen said...

Agreed Chris - Lydia is one special person!! :)