Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Words and Meaning
Therefore I was disappointed when the usually more astute John Piper fell into this semantic trap (although less so than most:
One of the most transforming forces in our lives is being regarded as better than we are.And there you have the rhetorical slip - ungodliness is not the same thing as unlovable.
There is something profound and paradoxical about the way God creates godly people by first justifying the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
Then—and the order here is all important—he says, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7). They did not have a heart to know God when he “regarded them as good.” But now he will give them a new heart. That is the order. First justification of the ungodly. Then transformation of the heart.
Now the question is: Can we do something similar? Can we, by God’s grace, love someone into loveability? Chesterton said, “Unlovely things must be deeply loved before they become loveable.”
Now, none of what I am saying here should be confused with arguing Piper's central thesis which is genuine love transforms, deeply and completely. But that said, in an age where "self-worth" seems paramount, this seems more than a mere argument over word choice. We are lovely be because we are loved and the the statement ends. But even the lovely are ungodly.
Which leads to the converse statement, worth does not equate to good, worth equates to "worth saving - worth making good."
God loves us so much, we are so lovable in His eyes, that we meed to be saved, but make no mistake - we NEED to be saved.
These things matter. We have walked down a slippery slope of redefinition until all we need is worth - no we need loving transformation, but mostly, we need.