So much of what we know and think about the Christian life is, frankly, wrong. We’ve grown up too ingratiated and too inundated by the performance-driven society in which we live, that it’s hard — nigh impossible — for us to escape its mighty grip. As such, the way we view God’s dealings with us, His Words to us, and His Will for us, are so backwards and perverted from that which they were originally intended.
It must be said that the gospel of Christ is vastly counterintuitive to the way we innately think. It’s upside-down to the way we think and reason, and it’s bigness and one-way-ness fly in the face of all our finite intellect. Our limited minds aren’t able to apprehend the enormity of this gospel, and therein lies the point. Because, not only is this gospel of unmerited favor, unceasing grace, and unwavering mercy counterintuitive, it’s also cavernous.
One way in which we think very wrongly about the Christian life is in viewing it as a mountain climb. Because we’re self-focused, narcissistic, “turned in on ourselves” by default, we like to think of ourselves as the heroes, as the champions, as the fighters, the warriors, the winners, the victors who win the crowns and enjoy the spoils. We fashion ourselves, and our lives, as one long motivational montage of consistent and constant rising, progressing, heightening, enhancing, and ascending. We think of gospel-living as escalating holiness and soaring sanctification.
But, in actuality, it’s not really any of those things. The Christian isn’t to be defined by “ascension,” but by “descension” — rather (and better), by the condescension of Another, of the One who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:6-7 ESV) And so it is that we should say that the Christian life isn’t a mountain climb: it’s a cave dive — a plunge and dive into all the unimagined and undiscovered fullness of Christ!
Our whole lives are to be about mining the “riches of his glory” (Eph. 3:16 ESV), and the “immeasurable riches of his grace.” (Eph. 3:7 ESV) We plunge into this cavernous gospel, knowing that our our anchor is firm, and our hope secure. We dive with our moorings fastened on the bulwark of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We immerse ourselves, deeper and deeper into this gospel, exploring new, unsearched caverns of love and forgiveness and mercy and patience.
Life for you and I is concerned only with exploring “the breadth and length and height and depth” of God’s love (Eph. 3:18 ESV), venturing to comprehend the love that “is too great to understand fully” (Eph. 3:19 NLT) and the peace “which surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7 ESV) This exploration is done all the while knowing, full well, that this venture is a forever unfinished one, seeing as the capacity and immensity of it is “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20 KJV) We’ll never be able to plumb the deep waters of God’s grace. We’ll never find the floor of His forgiveness. And that’s the point!
We’re forever diving deeper, descending further, experiencing and realizing more and more of the undiscovered fullness and unimagined abyss of the gospel of grace. The Christian life is a glorious pursuit of and grace-driven plunge into the God “who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” (Job 5:9 ESV) We may spend many seasons, a lifetime even, mining the wealth of God’s love and the affluence of His grace and the abundance of His mercy and the freeness of His forgiveness, and we’ll have not even so much as scratched the surface of all that is in our Divine Surety and Perfect Savior.
Therefore, if you ask what I’ll be doing for the rest of my short time here on earth, my reply will be, not with ascending, but descending; not with rising, but diving; not with climbing, but caving — further and further, and deeper and deeper into the mystery of grace, the scandal of forgiveness, and the surprising fullness of justification — into the cavernous gospel!
Photo via Jasper Van Der Meij / Unsplash