LOVING THE RING OR THE GROOM
Matt. 13:44 ¶ “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Humans are hopelessly bound in sin, at least until they taste the goodness of our God. We are all part of a fallen race, all of us are flawed and corruption has kept us from living the kinds of lives we were born to live. All of that can change. It can change suddenly, dramatically, and permanently. That’s what conversion is. It’s the transformation of our lives by attacking the very source of our problem; the pursuit of pleasure. Now don’t get me wrong, the pursuit of pleasure is in us because that is the way we are wired. The problem is not pursuing pleasure per se, the problem is the source of our pleasures. Most are bound in sin, enslaved to the momentary pleasures that sin offers. It is the surprising work of grace, what Augustine termed Sovereign Joy, that catches us by surprise. What happens is not that The Lord takes away our desire for joy, it’s just that His influence cause us to delight in Him rather than His gifts. Listen to how Augustine described it.
“Deeper than all ‘felt needs’ is the real need: God. Not just God experienced without emotional impact, but rather God experienced as ‘holy Delight’. ‘You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you.’ This peace is the presence of a profound happiness. ‘He is happy who possesses God.’ Not because God gives health, wealth, and prosperity, but because God is our soul’s joyful resting place.
Suppose, brethren, a man should make a ring for his betrothed, and she should love the ring more wholeheartedly than the betrothed who made it for her. . . . Certainly, let her love his gift: but, if she should say, The ring is enough. I do not want to see his face again” what would we say of her? . . . The pledge is given her by the betrothed just that, in his pledge, he himself may be loved. God, then, has given you all these things. Love Him who made them.”
What a great example. Can you imagine the response of a groom who was treated that way by his bride? Unthinkable! It even sounds stupid to even pose that question. But is it so stupid? Isn’t that exactly the way we have often treated The Lord? He comes through with a financial provision. “Thanks Lord”, as we go on our way. He heals us of a sickness. “Thanks Lord”, as we continue in our lives, pursuing pleasure and happiness in everything but Him. Of course He loves us and wants to do those kinds of things for us but what He is after is our heart. It is our affections that are the source of all our trouble. It is our will or our desires that have been so goofed up by the fall. That’s where this message of Sovereign Joy comes in, it’s His strange effect on us, suddenly He becomes our treasure and in that moment the chains of sin fall off of our lives, and we are finally free.