Then Jesus, our kind Lord said, “If you are pleased, I am pleased. It is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to me that I ever suffered my Passion for you; and if I could suffer more, I would suffer more……we are his bliss, we are his reward, we are his glory, we are his crown – and this was a special marvel and a most delectable vision, that we are his crown!Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 22, Long Text
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.2 Cor 2: 14
Many years ago I heard a talk that troubled me. The premise of it was simply that the more I sinned, the more pain I caused Jesus. ‘Don’t be that extra hammer blow’ was the tag line. After a while of almost ascetically pointless striving, a friend admonished me. Even if it were true, they said, it wouldn’t make any difference, he’d delight in suffering it. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not fear.
The balance between receiving his Grace and taking advantage of it can be a fine line. St Paul makes that very clear; What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Certainly Not! However one of the most powerful lessons that we can take from his Grace is simply the value that he places upon our lives. So often I either begrudge doing good or act out of a very false humility, and yet Christ genuinely delighted in his suffering for us. In fact, he’s so chuffed at what he’s done that he wants to show it off to everyone; the triumphant procession that just can’t help smelling of love.
Whilst valuing ourselves as much as God does is impossible, God does want us to understand both the value that he places upon our lives and the value that he places upon the whole of creation. When he looked at us, dead in our sin, broken, hurting and hopeless, his response was not abhorrence, it was perfect love. Of course, that also means that we have to value each other just as much. The people that have hurt us most in life, are also Christ’s endless delight. Perhaps they just don’t know it yet.