By Aaron Elder
It would turn the world upside down if we let it. How do I know? Because it did for the apostles. Perhaps the greatest obstacle we face as humans is fear. We fight against it individually and we experience it as the primary motivator from leaders – government, schools, churches, employers. John writes that perfect love casts out fear. But honestly, the word “love” in Christianese has become tainted for me. It has been reduced to a description of actions that are “in the person’s best interest.” It has been virtually divorced from delight.
Maybe I’m just jaded, but for all of the sermons and talk about love, it is still undergirded by fear – the titanic is sinking, don’t be left behind, the devil is always after you, have you done everything you need to do (to gain favor by faith and not by works)? Judgment.
If you’ve ever experienced genuine love, it always comes with delight. The type of love and delight is either disarming or disorienting depending on your life experiences.
When God came to dwell among us, it was a cause for rejoicing. Why? In a world of mythology, it was not good when the gods came to earth. When this God came to earth, he came because of love, to show favor, to show delight.
Jesus delighted in his disciples. Jesus delighted in the outcasts. I would even venture to say that despite frustrations, he delighted in the religious leaders. The fact that Jesus delights in me is hard for me to embrace. Some of this is personality, some is upbringing, some is a product of the national and ecclesial cultures in which I exist. I expect that I’m not the only one for whom this is hard.
I think it is so hard because so few of us have experienced true delight ourselves. While we bear the scars, God wants us to intimately know his delight. His delight is for us and it goes beyond us. He is delighted in this world that he created. He is delighted in both the ins and the outs in equal measure.
Jesus brought with him a new kingdom. Not a kingdom formed out of fear, but one of delight. This is the kingdom we’re invited into and to participate in.