May 10, 2009

“All We Need Is Love, Love” – But What Kind? Paul Knew the Answer.

Posted in Devotionals, Poetry, Stories at 11:57 pm by Sarah Bosse

~ from ‘Paul’s Face, Part 2’ ~ John Piper ~ Dec 4, 2005 ~

“…The love we need is not the kind
That comes to us and tries to find
Some worth or beauty that can keep 
The lover true. No, we must sweep
All self-exalting loves away.
One kind of love alone will stay,
And it is not the kind that needs
Our worth or beauty or good deeds,
But intercedes for us and dies
When there is nothing here but lies.
The love that, as we kill, it cries,
“Lord, make these enemies your prize.””

How poignant this poem’s story, following today’s message in church (which included an account of Paul’s involvement in the stoning of Stephen and Stephen’s view of Jesus standing to welcome him Home). To make sense of Part 2, go ahead and invest a few minutes in reading and/or listening to Part 1.  I promise you won’t regret it!  If you get a chance, please read all of Part 2 or listen to it here.  

God’s love alone is that which we must seek; all others pass away and are forgotten, and have no bearing on eternity.  But the Love of God carried the agony of the cross for you and me, and the Love of God has been demonstrated by Jesus from all eternity.  Jesus is now interceding (praying) for His children – all those whom God the Father has given to Him (John 10:28-30 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”).  The Lord made His enemies to be His prize.  

Regarding the stoning of Stephen, John Piper writes as “Paul” in his advent poem the following:

“About a year went by. Then swirled
A storm of controversy in 
Jerusalem. There had not been
Such fury since the day we killed 
The Lord. And finally it spilled
Beyond what anyone had seen 
For years, and filled the court with mean
And raging men, including me, 
Though I was but a youth. And we
Were driven to this rage by one
Whose humble face shown like the sun,
And said that Jesus was alive,
And that our Law, and how we strive,
And worship with our feasts,
And sacrifice our flawless beasts
Was coming to an end, and all
That we must do is trust, and call
Upon the mercy of the Lord.
I knew if this was true, a sword
Would pierce the city of my soul 
And lay in ruins ev’ry goal
I had, and overthrow my birth,
My pride, and all my vaunted worth.
And so I gathered at my feet
The garments of the most elite
In righteousness as they stoned him
To death. And then, when ev’ry limb
Of Stephen’s body quivered in
The agony of death, the sin
Of all my righteousness appeared
For one brief moment. Killers cleared
Away, and I saw Stephen’s face,
The right side torn away, and grace
Filled all the rest. And with the lips 
That he had left he said, ‘Though whips
And stones destroy this flesh, I know
That my redeemer lives. I go.
Behold the Son of Man has stood,
And counts this sinner Stephen good!
However great their sin amount,
Christ, lay it not to their account.’
The wall was breached, and though I raged
To keep myself with Law encaged,
The power of his shredded face
Would prove to be triumphant grace.”

Now, from the Word (ESV):

Stephen is stoned
Acts 754 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep… Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution.

And that, my friends, is an example of a man whose life and death shows us a reflection of Christ’s love.  The Love of Christ is perfect.  Let’s seek after it alone!


1 Comment »

  1. Naomi said,

    With tears streaming down my face, I write only to say this poem depicted a more realistic event than I was able to recieve from scripture alone. Thank you for sharing this. God bless.

    Naomi Pemberton

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