Sometimes it’s the fullest and best moments with those I love that catch me off guard with their achiness for Jesus – and with their touch of God. It’s when the man I married when he was only a boy – the one who now knows me better than anyone else – speaks that truth, and I’m altered with light in a place I didn’t even know was dark. Just like that time when I was a brand new bride, and he spoke those words that opened up a whole new understanding of God ‘s heart, leaving me changed. Or when forgiveness in that relationship that was breached causes an inward awe of God, as I see a miracle worked deep.
These full moments in relationships often stun me with the way they bring me close to Him, sometimes with my greatest strides. Why the surprise? Because I forget how much He loves to draw us to Himself through one another. I forget how unified our love for Him is with the love of one another.
How many times have we sung that phrase – in countless choruses and songs through the years – those words of Holy Writ that declare: Your love is better than wine” (Song. 1:2). Or of David’s song, “Your lovingkindness is better than life” (Ps. 63:3)? And always, in our singing it, we add our own spontaneous songs of how no other love, no other relationship, no other pleasure can compare to the love of Christ. And all these songs are true. His love is better – always better – than even the best things of this life. Yet what takes me by surprise at times is just how some of these good things – these friendships in Jesus or pleasures from His hand – they are not separate from the the wine of His love, but extensions of it. They are not dead-ends or dry wells like that of the world, but real escorts into the “better than” love of Jesus.
Every Good and Perfect Gift Draws Us To Him
When a gift is from His hand – the wine of the good things He gives in this life – it bears His mark. And thus, when we receive these gifts in the way we were made to, they come with a drawing, a remembrance and an alluring back to Himself. They hold that mysterious quality of answering longing in us and yet going further by unearthing deeper longing for God and worship of Jesus in us all at once.
Whenever I have rightly tasted of the good things that He gives – in His creation and His people – they neither leave me so content as to cross my arms over my fullness and pull away satisfied, nor frustrated and disappointed at their insufficiency. Rather, they lift me to a place I wasn’t at before. They open my eyes to a part of Jesus I hadn’t seen before and take my affections to Him. In short, they carry me past the person or pleasure to Jesus Himself.
[framed_box]When we fall short and are covered in love by our brother, we are catapulted into the One beyond our brother – the One in whom we both have fellowship (1 Jn. 1:3). When we know in one another the sweetness of being loved deeply and loved in that knowing – it doesn’t culminate by leaving us empty but rather climaxes in the launching us into a greater knowing of the very love of Jesus – the One whose love is better than wine and whose lovingkindess is better than life (Song. 1:2; Ps. 63:). [/framed_box]
These truly good things from the Good Father in whom every good and perfect gift comes from – they draw us to Himself (James 1:17). They remind our panting, pilgrim souls that we really were made for the best of the best of wine – the highest of pleasures found at His right hand (Ps. 16:11). Like the wedding at Cana, these lesser tastes are foretastes of the best wine to come (Jn. 2:1-11). And is this not what all these good gifts were intended to do?
Yes, the world’s pleasures leave us unsatisfied and dulled – they are that which cools the flame. But God’s own gifts to us? When we receive these to our hearts rightly, they bring us closer to Himself just as He desired.
It is together with all the saints that we comprehend what is the width and height and depth and length of the love of Christ that passes knowledge (Eph. 3:18). Thus, friendship and love and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Jesus does not bring us to a dead end – where we come to the end of the road and realize that even this good thing doesn’t satisfy. No, in its rightful place, this gift of godly fellowship is not an eventual impasse but a perpetual throwing open of new doors and windows into the one Friend and Beloved beyond all others.
Living Channels of the “Better Than” Love of Christ
It isn’t that I just taste of the best of these beautiful things – rich fellowship or life-changing forgiveness – and then turn aside as these things plateau in their ability to satisfy. That’s just the beauty of it. [framed_box]When they are received rightly, they touch me so deeply that I am awakened not to craving more of that person in a wrong way, but to the transcendent beauty and fountain that our love and fellowship together as His Body flow from. [/framed_box]
When we love one another in the love of Christ, we actually are caught up in the highest pleasure He gives to the human heart – the experience of His love. Our relationships in Him, then, are not separate from this “better than” love of Jesus, but part of it. In loving my children, my husband or my friend, I am not just another empty vessel proving insufficiency. Rather, I am a living channel of that real love in Him – a drink of that living fountain that is better than all else.
In this way, we are drawn nearer and deeper into His love by the love that we share together in Him. And in this exchange, we are bound together not in a way that is wrong but beautifully right – for our fellowship with one another flows from our ultimate love and fellowship with the Father and His Son, the love that remains forever (1 John 1:3; 1 Cor. 13:13; Jn. 17:24-26).