The passion of our Christ is to be consumed by love – completely consumed – for the benefit of others. To have our very being poured out without reservation upon the worthy and unworthy alike. To be a cup emptied just to satisfy the angry thirst of others. Drained to the last drop, then filled and poured out again. Again and again. It is terrible work, and everything in us strains against it.
But it is the work of Christ – to be joined with Him in His passion requires sacrifice.
Sacrifice. How can He say He loves us when He is so willing to sacrifice us for the sake of strangers? Why won’t He let us choose who we are willing to love?
If we choose to love Him, then we are choosing to let go of the shore we’re sure of, and step into these terrifying waters. Deep, swift, uncontrollable waters. When we choose Christ, we commit ourselves to them. We don’t know where they will take us – but we know for certain that there will be no turning back.
Why do we doubt – oh we of little faith?
This is how He makes us beautiful – like Him. To let His love flow through us means to never be full with His love. Filled yes – full no. Of Christ we’ll never be completely full. How can a container be full when it is always being poured out? No, we are simply witnesses of His startling Grace rushing through our fingers. The exquisite pain – all that’s ugly washed clean – as we are emptied of everything but gratitude – as we become Love. And so we grow. The torrent, the crushing torrent of the Eternal pouring into us stretches the boundaries of our being – and the cup becomes a pitcher, then the pitcher a spring.
It is beautiful work. A sublime vocation. A treasure building in Heaven. But it requires intimacy with sorrow – because that’s the stake that passion grows upon. So it’s not an easy course to choose.
Some children were playing in a field. Our Lord walked up and asked them to come away and play with Him. Only one said yes, but when He asked her to climb with Him to the top of a great tree she shouted, “But that’s impossible!”
“Child,” He answered, “with me all things are possible. Come join me in the higher places, where the birds will sing your name and breezes tease your face. The colors there are nothing you’ve ever known, the light is pure and golden.”
She shook her head and said, “I’m afraid, because it’s so far and high – and anyway I like the games I’ve begun.” But she stopped to consider the offer for a moment, and thought it through. Finally she shook her head again. “Besides, my mother wouldn’t want me to go.”
He said, “Leave these things. The tree is strong and true, it will hold you, and I will make a way, until we stand on swaying branches, amongst the joyful leaves, and sing our song of gladness. Together – you with me – in our tree – in the impossible.”
She turned to leave. “I can’t do what you ask, but I love you very much, and I appreciate the offer, so when I return to my friends I will tell them that we should now play all our games in your name. Watch me, I’ll be playing for you.”
God’s offer remains to us long after we’ve put away childish things. But now our choice is about the work we’ll do, not the games we’ll play. Will we work with Him, side-by-side, hand-in-hand laboring joyfully through impossible places? Or will we stay safe, and take simple, reasonable steps to accomplish nice things for Him? Of course it’s right to do things for God – but how much more amazing is it to do things with God! To share in glorious intimacy with the creator of the universe, experiencing the amazing power of His tender, thoughtful love, as it carries us through every difficulty in our lives, on a miraculous journey to finally be with Him forever. But here and now God wants to do impossible things in our lives and in the lives of others – and He needs workers who are willing to work with Him to accomplish this. This can be you, and this can be me.
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them… Mark 16:20