The Beauty of Christ
This week, as we seek to expand Christ Covenant's missionary footprint in the world, the session had the privilege of interviewing a young Indian church planter who hopes to head back home to Bangalore next year and begin work pastoring and planting a church in the city.
In the course of our conversation, I asked the young man, "Do you love Christ?" He answered, "Yes! I do!" I probed further, "What is it, precisely, about Christ that you love?" As he began to extol the glories of our Savior, oh, how I wish I could have recorded his answer. With tears in his eyes, he said something like, "He is the Lord of glory, the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn above all Creation, who has been exalted above every name that ever shall be named. He is the One through Whom the Father made all things. And even though He knew Adam would mess it up and all mankind would follow in the madness of Adam's rebellion. Yet, despite all that, He still chose to set His love on me before the foundation of the World. And He still came to live the life that I ought to have lived, and to die the death of the wicked damned. For me! And all to redeem me-- to redeem us from our sins! And now, resurrected in the glory, in the power of an endless life, He sits enthroned over God's creation, ruling it for God's glory, and overseeing it all for the benefit of His blood-bought people! And one day He will return and make all things new, He will make an end of all sin and those who practice it, and He will bring everything back into line with the will of God, to God to the glory of His Father's great Name."
As I think back over what he said, I am reminded of John Owen's famous comments at the start of His epic treatise, "The Glory of Christ."
"Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, (Christ) is, he always hath been precious - the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls -- everything that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity... (And) the principle design of their whole lives unto whom he is thus precious is to acquaint themselves with him...to trust in him, and unto him, as to all the everlasting concernments of their souls-- to love and honor him with all their hearts and to endeavor after conformity to him. In these things consist the soul, life, power, beauty, and efficacy of the Christian religion; without which, whatever outward ornaments may be put upon its exercise, it is but a useless, lifeless carcass."
Do you hear what Owen is saying? Without the loveliness of Christ to animate it by the Spirit, the outward rites, rituals, and rubrics of our religion - be they every so ornate and intricate- are but a useless, and a lifeless carcass.
Let me ask you this morning, Christian: Do you love Jesus? What is it about Jesus that you love? Could you tell an inquisitive neighbor what it is that makes Him "altogether lovely?" What is it about Jesus that makes you want to break out in song? Or could it be, that your religion has lost its song because you have lost your vision of Jesus? "Oh," Jesus says, "Come back to me and I will show you myself. And as the angels hide their faces before My glory, I will give you something to sing about forever!"