Chapter 2 Love is Here...and Later

Love is Here

I think Bono said it best, when he exclaimed,
“You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains
carried the cross of my shame, of my shame.
You know I believe it.
“But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Said what best Mike? He didn’t say anything!
I mean, that doesn’t make any sense does it?
Jesus is what we’re looking for. Right?

Well, yes.

I remember a particular chapel service at my Christian high school,
when a worship band came and sang this song.
It was terribly cool at that time to sing a U2 song for worship too,
but when it came time to sing the refrain after that verse,
they cleverly changed the lyrics to,
“and now I have found, what I’m looking for!”
It was quite a moment too. Hands going up all over the place,
people shouting, flags waving, it was totally amazing.
And I remember pumping my fist, and thinking, “yeah! That’s right.
What does Bono know? How could he talk about Jesus and then
say that he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for?
Not me! I’ve found what I’m looking for! I’m not still searching,
I’m not still looking….right?

Well, yes and no.

Ten years ago I thought U2 was trying to say that Jesus wasn’t really the answer.
Now, I’m starting to see that they just understood something that I didn’t.
You see, I think Bono was simply reiterating something that theologians have
been writing about for centuries. He wasn’t making blasphemous statements
as much as he was poeticizing what is commonly referred to as,
“the already and the not yet.”
And you know, I’d say it might just be the most difficult truth that a Christian
will ever have to wrestle with.
The fact that we already have what we’re looking for,
and in the same moment, haven’t yet received it,
isn’t so easily reconciled as one would hope.

I mean, if some of you think about it long enough,
your brain might explode.
But believe me, it’s true.
Think about it this way.

(But if you start to get dizzy or nauseous,
discontinue reading and breathe into a paper bag.)

Love is here and now. We needn’t look any further than the cross.
To all the people who say, “I wish that Jesus loved me! If only he’d
get me that job, or fix that relationship, or get me a parking space on Black Friday…etc,”
I would say, “Look no further! The cross is proving to you the love of God right now.”
And as disappointing as that might be for some, Romans 5:8 says that
“God proves his love in this; that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
His love isn’t waiting around the corner, or in a parking lot in front of Target.
He isn’t waiting to prove to you his love in some cosmic experience,
where he pops out like a game show god and gives you the idol you’ve always wanted.
No. We already have the acceptance, forgiveness, and validation that every
human heart longs for by Christ’s death in our place. Like David defeating
Goliath, Jesus triumphed over sin and damnation, and gives a victory
to a people who never lifted a finger to accomplish it themselves.
We are loved and accepted and it has absolutely nothing to do with our
performance. It has to do with his for us.
This is good news. This is the gospel.

But at the same time,
the very people who have been forgiven all, have transversely fallen in love
with the Saviour who loves them, (hopefully), and yet,
though they have his Spirit living inside them, they are still waiting to see
Him face to face. Which again, hopefully, is the burning desire of every ransomed heart.

So, the love we’re looking for we have in Christ, at the cross,
but the lover Himself we have yet to see.
In some sense, I guess you could say that
we’re fighting for what we already have received.
The already and the not yet, and it is a profound mystery.

And if you follow this through, you can see how much of our wasted time
and effort is from a failure to believe one of these two truths.
Either we think, “I’m not validated. I’m not important,
so I’m gonna go run to something or someone to give me significance.”
Or we believe the lie that we’re supposed to feel at home here,
and so the second we start to feel dissatisfied, instead of accepting
it as part of the lovesickness we feel for God himself, we just run to whatever
cheap thrill we can get in that moment.
And that’s a pretty good definition of sin.
Identity that comes from something other than what God has done for you,
and pleasure that we seek before the pleasure that God Himself can give.
Or to be King James about it,
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

But man, if deep down in my soul, God was really my God,
if I really believed that I didn’t have to earn my approval,
that I didn’t have to be good enough or smart enough or faithful enough to
get God to love me, I think it would change who I run to for acceptance.
Love is here. Love is now.
And if I really knew that the thing my heart wanted most was to be home
with God, then it wouldn’t come as any great shock to me when I feel dissatisfied here.
And maybe, just maybe, I’d actually be able to be content in my discontentment.

Could you imagine?
A bunch of people who weren’t fighting to prove themselves to everyone,
and who gladly heard and welcomed criticism?
A group of people who actually believed they were loved in spite of themselves,
whose identities, like John the disciple, weren’t based on their own successes and failures,
but were based on what had been done for them?
A church that wasn’t forever running to “lovers less wild,”
because it was content waiting for God in its discontentment?

For all you Switchfoot fans, thats what the whole “Beautiful Letdown” album is about.
“It was a beautiful letdown, the day I knew, all the riches this world had to offer me,
would never due….in a world full of bitter pain, and bitter doubt. I was trying so
hard to fit in, until I found out, that I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here.”

Man, what peace to know that this isn’t my home.
What a beautiful letdown to know that I am loved and there’s
nothing I could run to that would give me what I want.

But it’s not really that easy is it?
Because we’re made for a massive amount of pleasure you and I.
We’re made for God to fill us, and shine through us, and so when
God’s taking his sweet old time to satisfy us,
it seems downright impossible to hold out doesn’t it?
I mean, people want to be happy, right?
They want their best life now, and so when Jesus comes along and says,
stop looking, just wait, “your best life is coming later!”
Well, it’s not exactly what you want to hear is it?
“Don’t tell me that love is here, and not yet!
Just give me something to dull the pain!

But that’s just it.
Love is here, and now and…later.
Everything you want and are looking for, you’ve got it.
So stop looking.
Everything else that you want, wait.
It’s coming,

Like I said before, think about this too long and you might go cross-eyed.
But I’d rather be cross-eyed and content than have my eyes fixed
on a world that can’t even deliver what it promises.
If God Himself is really the desire of our hearts, then as long as
we’re strangers here, we’ll sing along with those crazy Irish rockers,
“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Psalm 84:10
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Cheers,
Mike D