Monday, January 07, 2013

Your love outbids!

It's funny to hear someone take something you've preached and put it into a song. It's happened a few times, a word or phrase sticks. And it did last February. Olly Knight lyricised, in his great new song The Father's Love:

"Your love outbids, your love outshines them all."

Songwriters are the most influential theologians in churches - and the pulpit needs to think hard about pastoring such people well. Pastor the songwriters and worship leaders and they'll serve the church by embedding the gospel in the hearts of the people.

We need to capture imaginations, we need to consider our phrasing and language.

Where does this word "outbids" come from?

I got it from puritan hero Jeremiah Burroughs who unpacks the idea of the LORD alluring us like this as he preached from Hosea 2:14:

The Lord says, firstly, I will unfold the beauty and excellency of the infiniteness of my goodness and loving-kindness and set in array before their souls the exceeding glory of the riches of my grace. They went whoring from me because their hearts were allured by their lovers, giving to them various contentments, and so subtly beguiling their minds; will I not dwell with them in a more powerful manner than their lovers possibly could? I will outbid them all. 

Or, to put it into 21st Century terms, for a student gathering:

“My people pursued their lovers:  They went after KPMG, PwC and Lloyds TSB, for money offered comfort and control. But I will outbid them! 
They went after celebrity gossip, social media status and pornography for they offer intimacy. I will bid more! 
They went after H&M and Ben & Jerrys and HDTV for retail therapy, over-priced ice-cream and Brian Cox talking Science on the BBC break the numbness of life. I will bid more” 

Burroughs then:

Did their lovers offer to them comfort? I will bid more than they. 
Did their lovers offer gain? I will bid more gain. 
Did they offer more honour and respect? I will outbid them in this too; so that I will persuade their hearts that they shall enjoy more in me, than they possibly could in all that their lovers could do for them. And indeed, then the gospel has the true, full and gracious work upon the heart of a sinner, when it yields to its invitations, finding that all that the world can bid is now outbidden and that there is more gain in Christ than in all else besides. 

And to push the point home, he picks up an everyday image:

You know, when one comes to offer so much for a commodity on a market stall, and another outbids him, he carries it away. So when the world and sin offer to the soul such and such contents, if God comes and outbids all, the bargain is made and God carries away the heart.

Jesus comes to the marketstall where I am the produce. And Jesus bids for me against the bidding of idols. How humiliating that he would even pursue me into my sin. That he would contend against such worthless "not gods". Yet he does. Jesus fights for me, to carry my heart away with him. And he does not offer a price, he offers himself - through death and resurrection to union with him.

Burroughs contemplates that "seeing leads to singing, and singing leads to reformation".
Play a chord, write a song, let the band play for our Saviour outbids all by giving us himself.

READ: Of Lovers and Whores by Jeremiah Burroughs
LISTEN: Three Sermons on Hosea 2:14-23
BUY Olly Knights songs
DISCUSS: Three Bible Discussions on Hosea 2:14-23.