This week, I posted two articles detailing experiences in which I recently experienced Christ’s grief. (You can read the first post here, and the second post here). In today’s post, I’d like to talk a bit about the reality of Christ’s grief, and a practical response to His grief.
Christ’s Grief Is Real
The more I become aware of the life of God dwelling in me, the more I become aware of His grief. This is certainly not something that I have chosen to notice, rather it is something that has been shown to me. His grief is something I have become aware of independent of my own emotions and natural dispositions. It is very similar to the way we might notice a close friend’s grief. Their grief is distinct from our own, but because of our relational closeness, we also experience their grief as our own as well.
It seems the more that I practically relate to Christ as a tangible indwelling person in myself and in the community of saints that I am being built with, the more I become aware of His desires & grief.
Christ’s Grief Is Different Than Human Offense
Human offense and Christ’s grief are polar opposites. Our old fleshly nature is incapable of love. It is broken and seeks to take from others to meet its own needs. When our old fleshly nature finds a recipient to meet its needs, it may seem like love at first, but it is the opposite of love in reality. It takes from another until the other can no longer meet the perceived need. When this occurs, offense also usually occurs and sabotages the relationship.
Human fleshly offense demands from others. It rises up anytime it does not receive what it thinks it deserves or needs. The grief of the Spirit is quite different, however. Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to take from what is His and give it to them. This is the ‘mission’, so to speak, of the Holy Spirit. He has a one track mind. Christ is the very essence of reality and life (John 14:6). The indwelling Spirit is a gift who has been given to us to operate as a ‘delivery vehicle’, so to speak, of Christ’s life to us. The Spirit is continually looking to feed us this living Bread (Christ) at all times and occasions.
The Spirit has taken up residence in the inner beings of the saints. The chief way the Spirit interacts and feeds us with Christ’s life is through the shared life that the saints have with one another in community. For this very reason, it matters a great deal how we relate to one another and how we perceive one another. Again, if we operate from the the vantage point of the flesh, we may seek to relate with others from our own place of lack. This eventually leads to frustration when our needs are not being met.
Seeing one another from the lens of the flesh also leads to a general disdain and disregard for others whom we cannot control, or for those who are different from us. This is usually the source of all tension and conflict that occurs among a group of people. This was certainly the case with the New Testament churches as well.
As you may know, the letters we read in the New Testament were not stand alone letters written to individuals trying to live an ‘individual’ Christian life, rather, they were letters written to entire communities of people who were living a shared life together. This is why living by the Spirit was essential. While human fleshly offense occurs when it does not ‘get’ what it wants, the Holy Spirit is grieved when He cannot *give* what He desires to give to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever we interact with our brothers and sisters through the flesh, the Spirit is grieved. Consider these words from Paul to the church in Ephesus:
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way…Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not *grieve* the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:17-20, 29-30, NASB, emphasis mine)
Christ’s Grief Is An Opportunity To Commune
Because the Lord has so much that He desires to give to us from the riches of His own life, each time He is prevented from giving to us freely, He is grieved. His nature is quite gentle and tender. He does not force His way on us. When His advances toward us are rebuffed, He is grieved. I am convinced this happens quite often even though I have rarely been aware of this grief.
Being awakened to this grief has not been a pleasant thing. In the past, whenever I became aware of His grief, I tried to ‘fix’ it. It is in our own human nature to try to ‘fix’ or alleviate the suffering of those we care about. Whenever I felt the grief in the heart of the Lord, I would come running to the rescue:
“Don’t worry Lord, I’ll take care of everything!”
Just for the record, this never worked. It always made matters worse. I never understood why the Lord would share His heart with me about a particular person or situation. Because of my fleshly religious nature, I wanted to ‘do’ something to fix them or the problem that grieved the heart of the Lord. Little did I know that the Lord did not need my help. He shared His grief with me for one main purpose:
Whenever someone is grieving, it helps tremendously to know that someone is grieving with you. Simply ‘knowing’ that you are not alone in your grief brings a tremendous amount of peace and connection between yourself and the person who is experiencing the same grief with you. You are treasured and you are not alone. There is one who wants to share everything with you; including His very own grief. This sweet communion & fellowship is what He really desires with us. Deep down, it is also what we all want as well.
The more that we walk by His indwelling life, and the more that we experience His life among a shared community of saints (church), the more we will experience His grief. Whenever we become aware of His grief, it is an invitation to rest with Him in His grief and commune with Him. He will ‘fix’ all things in His time. We are now free to rest and commune.
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (Philippians 3:10, NASB)