In Pastor Leithartís introduction to Song of Songs yesterday, he cited a Jewish commentator who noticed that in the love poetry of Solomon, the lover is not cut off and isolated from the world. Much modern love poetry tends to be isolationist, driving lovers away from the world, away from friends. Their passionate, obsessive love centers on each other in a way that closes them off from anything or anyone around them. But in the Song of Songs, the man sees the world in and through his bride. And this is sometimes rather humorous for modern ears: the womanís nose reminds him of a particular tower, and her neck is like a battlement hung with shields. Her teeth and hair remind him of particular valleys, flocks of sheep and deer.
Weíve considered the nature of idolatry today, the fact that worshipping man-carved images results in deformities, abuse, and mistreatment of Godís image, the destruction of creation. But the faithful worship of the living God results in the promotion of life and dignity and glory. And this is because the God who creates and gives life replicates His love and creativity in His sons and daughters, growing to resemble Him. In other words, worshipping creation results in the loss and destruction of creation. But the worship of the Creator results in the gift of creation. Loving the Creator God, delighting in Him, means sharing in the joys of creation. Loving creation on its own always results in losing that joy and ultimately destroying creation.
Baptism is simultaneously an act of creation and an act of love. Here, God is claiming you as His own, Bill. God is adopting you, and naming you His son, His beloved son. And here, water is poured over you which is the water of the original creation, the water of the Red Sea, the water of the Jordan, the water above the firmament. Here you pass through the waters of the flood, you pass through death itself with Jesus, and you emerge in newness of life, in the strength of the resurrection, a new creation. And so the charge is to receive this love and return this love. The apostle says that we love God because He first loved us. And in Him is found all the riches and wonders of the world. As you love this God, this living God, this Creator God, and love His people, you will find the world, find life and find that you have creativity and life and love to give. You will find yourself remade, carved into a new image, the likeness of God Himself, the likeness of Jesus Christ.