Back in June I wrote about the grief of the Father, in the context of the ACoC General Synod in Winnipeg. More recently, with the intransigence of the TEC House of Bishops, I have once again felt the same thing.
The Fathers grief is not one of an impotent Father waiting anxiously for any sight of his errant children, wringing His hands and unable to act.
This is not a grief where we take centre stage.
This is a grief of the same Heart that burns with wild and outrageous Love and explodes in the most terrible and wrathful judgment against sin. So often we trivialise both, and make God to be a pale insipid creature at our beck and call, whenever we want an imprimatur to our latest course of action.
We truly and simply have no concept of the heart of our Father – were we to catch but a glimpse we would fall on our faces in awe, terror and love. Love and Wrath would burn us up both, because they are the same heart, the deepest heart of Holiness. There are simply no words, no jigsaw pieces of language that I can bring to express His heart. Would the we see a little, even if through a glass dimly (which is to our mercy), for then we would understand in a new light the sacrifice of Jesus.
So, when I say grief, this word is but the palest and dimmest approximation to our Fathers heart. It is the best that can be expressed with the meagre tool of words.
Where is this grief directed? It is directed at His Church. Not church as in Anglican Communion, though that may be the setting of the moment, but at His Church, His Bride. Once again, in all the petty politics and mealy-mouthed words – in the accusations, counter-accusations and in all the justifications we have for the dark things we do – once again our sight fails us and we do not see the Church as She is. A body of people, redeemed, sanctified and covered by the Blood. Made wholly new and completely acceptable in the sight of God. Note that – completely acceptable. No spot or blemish found anywhere, no stain of sin to be seen. The very sight of the Church is a terror to satan, glittering, Holy and terrible, standing astride the centuries, visible as the victory of the Lamb.
This is who we are – we are His body, and He is the head. It is because of who we are called to be, what He has chosen and elected us to, that our Fathers head is bowed in grief.
So, where is this grief directed? Well, I shall limit my current scope to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, though for sure the sauce that is applied to these geese can be applied to other ganders.
Romans 1:24-26 could not be more appropriate in judgment of TEC and the ACoC:
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
This is the judgment on these ichabod churches, and it a terrible thing indeed. The one truth, the last and only hope for mankind, exchanged for a tawdry lie of the common culture. We saw the same thing in Nazi Germany, as the German Church sold its birthright to buy into cheap and nihilistic depravity. You see the same thing again and again throughout history, and this grieves the heart of God so very, very greatly. We do not know the value of what we have, else we would cling to it with fierce determination, to death and beyond. But yet, we toss it aside like so much garbage, because the gaudy trinkets of the world hold so much more allure to our darkened eyes – sexual ‘freedom’, reproductive ‘choice’, financial ‘wealth’. By any objective analysis, we truly do fit into the definition of insane. Sin does that – it makes men mad.
Note, I am not judging any individual here – that is not my purview or intent. The Lord sees our hearts and he is the great and just Judge. The very fact should make us tremble! No, the judgment here is on the churches that once were part of the body of Christ, and now have detached themselves and are withering apart from the vine. The churches that have exchanged Truth for a lie. These dark lighthouses, that give no light and blind those within. These caricatures, that ape the Church of God, both deceived and deceiving, how could God not be grieved – and angered?
This grief is not divorced from judgment, nor from power to bring about change. If only we knew how delicately Wrath and Mercy, Love and Judgment is balanced in our Fathers heart. If only we knew how the stench of sin smells to Him who made and upholds the universe. If only we knew the power of the Cross and Blood of Jesus – how that great and cataclysmic event ripples out through history as Gods Redemption for a Creation gone astray. If only we knew what it meant to then exchange this truth for a lie.
For those that remain, those that are part of the new shoot growing from the Root that once nourished the now dead tree, it would be well to think on these things and realise that it is only by the grace of God that we are here. Paul did not write idly in Philippians 2:12-13 when he said:
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
It is only in Him that we have anything. Lest we be struck with a sense of superiority as holders of the truth, or indeed how we rescued ourselves, let us remember that is only in His Grace. Perhaps indeed in godly fear and trembling, thinking not highly of ourselves, we might be able to reach out and snatch those lost and hurtling into the outer darkness.
May it be to us as Jesus prayed in John 17:
20″My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Amen! Even so come Lord Jesus.