I just saw the movie “Doubt”in which Meryl Streep plays a nun who faces a crisis of faith as she confronts the certitude she feels in her heart about an evil being perpetuated in the name of ‘love’ towards a young defenseless child.
The tension in the film revolves around the nature of a falsehood and the substitution of false affection for true love.
Over the past several weeks, our class has been exploring the journey of the “Most Excellent Way” through a passages in 1 Corinthians 12:31 to 1 Corinthians 13.
Last week, we explored exactly where this love which comes from God resides. Are we recepients of this ‘love’ from somewhere out there or is our experience in faith the process of allowing the presence of God manifested through relationship with Jesus Christ to be revealed through us?
To aid in this process, we looked towards the world of art and discussed how some of the world’s greatest artist have spoken about their muse…the inspiration behind or perhaps better stated, within a painting, story or sculpture. The idea of a work being inspired in some ways points towards the release and revelation of something which is apart from oneself.
In one of the last recorded prayers of Jesus for his followers before he left the earth, He prays these words: John 17: 21-22, 23. “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in the, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me…I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou has sent me and hast love them, as thou has loved me.’
Why might Jesus most earnest plea to the Father before leaving the earth be about giving his follower His glory and making them perfect through His presence dwelling in them? Perhaps, because he understood clearly, what we only see through a glass dimly. The more excellent way is a revealed path, not a product created by our own self-aided design.
Jesus completed a perfect work on the cross. The imperfections which continue to exist within it’s full revelation in our lives are there not because there were any blemishes in His sacrifice. The imperfections are the result of hindrances of sin within our hearts through thoughts, words, actions and deeds…spoken or unuttered.
Watching the movie “Doubt” gave me renewed insight into why Jesus says that if we lead others astray (particularly little ones) it is better for us to jump into a lake with a millstone wrapped around the neck. (Mark 9:42) A commentary note in the NIV version of the Full Life Study Bible puts it this way; ‘One of the highest priorities for believers is to set a holy example for their children by life and teaching. In doing so, they demonstrate a sincere love for them…To fail in this responsibility can bring eternal disaster.’
God clearly defines and demonstrates true love for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and in several other passages of the Bible. When we miss the mark, it is as much about our choice to remain cloaked within the safety of our darkness as it is about our denial of biblical truth.
The light of God is love in its purest form and intention. It’s a work that was completed when Jesus gave his life to redeem us and said ‘it is finished.’ That is why it can never fails. It is also the reason that Paul can say with conviction that there will be a day in which this perfect love of God will be fully revealed in all of Christ’s followers in an untarnished fashion .