Sunday, 10 September 2017

Fully Known and Fully Loved

Over the last weekend we have celebrated the Lords Supper.  This is always a special time in the experience of every believer.  We are reminded in a very visual way of Christ's sacrifice on the cross - how His body was broken and His blood shed.  In our own Free Church tradition there is often a reluctance to come forward to the Lord's Table.  While this can lead to some believers never publically professing, it has, certainly in the past, meant that people take this step seriously and conscientiously.  As John Kennedy said of Highland Christianity: 'They were grave not gloomy. They had the light cheerfulness of broken hearts.  They did not, like others take it for granted that they were "the Lord's," they could not, like others speak peace to themselves; but, unlike many others, they were dependent on the Lord for their hope and joy.' 

Kirsteen and I were delighted over the weekend that our oldest son was given the strength to profess Christ publically for the first time.  I have often wondered why James hasn't done this before but we never pushed him and hoped that in time, he would be given the strength.  Parenting is like a long distance endurance race.  Often you feel exhausted and alone.  Often you feel that you are having little impact.  Then occasionally you are reminded that all your prayers, and all the times you had family worship with squirming kids who were long past their bed time, all the late nights holding a little hand through a cot, all the bed time stories all count for something.  Of course we love our children regardless of whether they profess or not, but to see my own son seated at the Lords Table brought a tear to my eye today. The Lord has very graciously allowed James to overlook a very imperfect example from his father and look to the Lord who alone saves.

In his Memoirs Dr Thomas Guthrie talks about one of his parishioners, a weaver named 'James Dundas' who lived on the north-west boundary of the Arbirlot Parish.  Guthrie claims Dundas lived an isolated existence and had no society (beyond his wife) but that of God and nature.  Like others in rural Scotland at that time Dundas was known as a bit of a poet and known for 'lofty thoughts, and a singularly vivid imagination.' 

Guthrie relates a story about Dundas and a loss of assurance on a Communion Sabbath; 'He rose, bowed down by a sense of sin, in great distress of mind; he would go to the church that day, but being a man of a very tender conscience, he hesitated about going to the Lords table; deep was answering to deep at the noise of God's waterspouts, and all God's billows and waves were going over him; he was walking in darkness, and had no light.  In this state he proceeded to put himself in order for church, and while washing his hands, one by one, he heard a voice say, "Cannot I, in my blood, as easily wash your soul, as that water wash your hands?" "Now Minister," he said, in telling me this, "I do not say there was a real voice, yet I heard it very distinctly, word for word, as you now hear me.  I felt a load taken off my mind, and went to the Table and sat under Christ's shadow with great delight" (Memoir and Autobiography, 1896, p 115).   

We were reminded by Chris Davidson this morning from Psalm 139 of a God who relentlessly pursues sinners.  As deep as sin goes, grace goes deeper.  Where sin abounds grace much more abounds.  The Lord's Table reminds us of a God who has not just come to earth to save us, but a God who has gone to the cross.  At the Cross we see a Saviour who loves us more than we can ever imagine.  This morning Chris quoted Tim Keller who said on his book about marriage; 'To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretence, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.'  Surely this is what the Lord's Supper is all about - to be known in all our sin and yet loved by our Saviour is surely the greatest love of all.

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