Friday, January 28, 2011

Why 'Reformed' makes for a bad Charismatic

I have been 'debugging' (that is, thinking about it, considering it, turning it over, weighing it against scripture, looking for weakness and inconsistency) in the Charismatic belief set ever since my brother started going to a Charismatic church.  I asked myself, what is it about Charismatic beliefs that inevitably propels people into the Benny Hinn zone, or the Toronto movement, where they roll around on the floor and bark like a dog, and pretend to get healed, or raise from the dead?  Why has it and it's ugly cousin the 'word of faith movement' and the Joel Osteen, Crystal Cathedral breed of American religious greed sprung so rapidly into the mainstream of American Evangelicalism?  What about this causes the idea to seem so small and lead to such huge impacts and differences between denominations?

The key insight came when I thought about what is it that keeps Piper, Grudem, and the other Reformed Charismatics (and to be fair even the Calvary Chapel movement), from sliding so far out. It then became clear to me: the problem is that the Charismatic interpretation of the Bible is that it is precisely and only mysticism. 

For those who are fuzzy on the problems of it, mysticism seeks to have spiritual experiences, to make things personal, to hold the individual up as the standard- it's the exact opposite of a love for Scripture.  Moreover, the two things are in a deathmatch, as there can be only one winner who stands at the center of the Bible, either it's us as mysticism unabashedly says or it's Christ.  Mysticism has emptied Christianity out of the Eastern Orthodox church, (there is a reason Soviet Russia permitted the existence of Eastern Orthodox Churches) it has permeated America in the form of "post-modernism", and it alone is the engine for Pentecostal services devolving into utter chaos and barbarism.  It's the bend of the natural man.  Mysticism is the personal interpretation of God speaking to us, which is another way to say, it elevates us to the level of apostles, allows us a private interpretation of scripture, and makes us the most important thing in the universe. 

Since mysticism is opposed to the Bible, and the Charismatic idea is only the old evil of mysticism, it follows that the Charismatic movement is opposed to scripture. I know the middle part is the most disputable so consider the evidence on the matter for yourself Berean, consider the fruits of the movement, is it in line with or opposed to Scripture? When Paul wrote 1 Cor. 14 he was addressing the assembled body, that they should use their gifts decently and in order, to edify one another.  What we have today is exactly the opposite, tongues are used as a personal experience for feelings sake.  The Bible is not used to bend our personal experience around it, we use our personal experiences to bend the Bible to us.  Who has the final say to the mystic to interpret anything he reads, thinks or experiences? His fallen feelings?  His sinful emotions or passions?  Certainly not the Scriptures whatever it is.  Examine carefully the driving force and center of the worldviews of those who cling to Chatismatic beliefs and you will see mysticism, the I, the me there. Ask yourself, does the Charismatic idea really lead you to Christ or inward to yourself when you are studying those passages? 

How then does the Reformed believer hold to the Charismatic movement and not slide down the logical slope into the abyss of apostasy like Benny Hinn and his ilk?  I think it's because they truly, deeply love Jesus and the Scriptures with their whole heart.  They are not really Charismatic at bottom, and although they may say and think they believe it, they live like they don't hold to mysticism at all.  In this matter they are inconsistent, thinking the belief itself is one interpretation, mostly harmless, and that it can be tolerated, but that's like thinking that a little bit of infidelity in marriage is tolerable.  (Jesus warned of exactly this, to beware the leaven of the Pharisees, for a little yeast of self importance could poison the whole batch.)

Because the Reformed crowd has a high view of scripture they are immunized from walking down the road of Mysticism too far, unlike their Arminian counterparts who have a much lower view and get much farther down the path of self importance.  But refusal to act out the logical consequences of a belief isn't really a belief is it?  I think you Charismatic Reformed brothers act a lot like you love the scriptures, and very little like you love mysticism. If you're Reformed I think the part you really love about the Charismatic idea is that it's Biblically faithful, that it helps you to interpret the more difficult passages of scripture, and that you despise the sinful fruits of it (Hinn) at the same time.  But can a true doctrine of God lead to such rampant sin if followed faithfully?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cessasionism From Luke 20:1-8

One day, as a Baptist cessationist was teaching the people in the conference and preaching the gospel (and the superiority of Christ's written word over fleeting mystical feelings), some Pentecostals leaders who believe in the continued gift of tongues and faith healing came to the Baptist and said to him, "Tell us by what authority you do believe these things, or who it is that gave you this authority to make the claim about the Bible that gifts had stopped?"
He answered them, "I will also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the ministry of Benny Hinn from heaven or from men?"
And they discussed it with one another, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Is He a God who loves and promotes thievery, lying wonders, selfish ambition, evil, greedy hearts, idolatry, and blasphemy?' But if we say, 'From man,' all our people will disown us, condemning our ministry to death, for Hinn believes what we do in this matter, and if we condemn him we condemn ourselves."
So they answered that they did not know where it came from.
And the Baptist said to them, "Then neither will I explain these things again."

Friday, January 21, 2011

What is the Church of Christ?

It occurred to me someone might actually want to know something about the Church of Christ.  I thought a short description was in order.

Theology and Doctrine
The Church of Christ descended largely from Alexander Campbell, a Presbyterian who rejected the historic and confessional understanding of the Bible.  Campbell was an Arminian who so strongly rejected his church roots that he decided to split off altogether and form a new denomination, but fearing the guilt he faced, decided to not call it a denomination.
Almost 200 years later the fruit of their decision is evident, without the creeds to anchor the church and with every believer left to understand things for themselves, there is no unity or common purpose in the group.
The good news is that the tattered remains of their thoughtful Presbyterians persist to some extent.  The liturgy is similar, they are Coventalist (as opposed to dispensationalist) in nature, (if you didn't understand that the general rule is that they believe the book of Revelation is past), and have simple singing (so simple in fact it's a-capella).  Their leadership is run by a board of elders.  If you are a church of Christer unhappy and wondering where to go outside of this group, make for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and return to your roots.

The bad news is that although they are believers they believe in utter incompetence of every other denominations understanding of the Bible. Their theology is not lifegiving, it's bitter, proud, arrogant, rote, joyless, mechanical, simple. Their faith is small, their boasting of their works great, their numbers collapsing, their studying dreadfully weak, in discipline unloving, in most things dreadfully, willfully ignorant and argumentative. But they are by in large real loving Christians who are captured by a dark wordview. Or perhaps I should say are members of a cult, trapped.
It's exactly what would happen if you reject your heritage and all it's greatest thinkers. They have been cast adrift having no solid foundation for understanding the Bible. 

Unique Markers
What really sets the CoC person apart and unique is their belief in the pivotal, all surpassing importance of credo-Baptism, communion at every church gathering, the rejection of all creeds, statements of faith, confessions and chatechisms, and their embrace of a-capella worship. Protestants, whatever else you do don't describe their position as Baptismal Regeneration- you will never understand them if you keep using that kind of language. The concept of being born again has no meaning, because that is predicated on a change in nature, or a change in state.  The protestant concept of justification means that a change of state is permanent, with the Church of Christ believer this is decidedly not the case.

Church Structure
Each church is run by an elder board of at least 2 but no larger than 9 men who have vocations not in ministry. They are responsible for ultimate policy decisions and official church discipline.  The church is supported by Deacons, men only, who take care of things, classroom staffing, communion passing, money counting, budget etc.  Men may become Deacons after they have young children (1 Tim 3:12), and Elders are appointed from the Deacons after they have teenage children who believe (in accordance with Titus 1:6). 
There are three kinds of Churches of Christ: the mainstream, the out of mainstream, and the antis. Even amongst the same group the churches themselves have little to no affiliation with each other, although some bonding occurs when out of necessity they will bond together, eg: to make a land purchase for a summer camp.  The mainstream is typically a larger congregation, more strongly liberal, the out of main is a smaller congregation that has likely split off of a main or an out of main (splitting is very common and happens on average every 5 years), and anti are defined by what they are against (ie: no kitchens in church, no doughnuts or food in church, one cup communion only). 

Talking to Them
Accept that they think you are likely stupid or shallow, and have not grasped their points about where you are wrong theologically. This is to be expected, as the only reason they have held together as a denomination is this glue. Sure hubris makes a terrible binding agent, but that's what you're working with.

They are most likely going to be very eager to do a Bible study with you, to correct your understanding of things, that's your opening.  As you study (most likely on a topic) go to a passage of scripture and press that clear meaning and that alone. Don't let up and don't let them squirm out of it, but instead show them there can only be one meaning and it's the obvious one.  Acts 13:48 comes to mind as a good example for this on showing predestination of the elect. You will not make any headway the first few times as they will be trying to convert you, but show a few such passages and press firmly. They will walk away in full disagreement, but pray for them and they won't walk away unchanged. It will likely take 6 to 8 months to fully deprogram them if you minister to them- do so with your whole heart.
They will be very glad you did.

Note: I was very amused when someone found this blog post while searching for "How to deprogram a Church of Christ person."  I'm glad there are people out there committed to such a good work.  If this is what you are after you are going to need a good block of time for continual study over the coming weeks.  If they are willing to study with you just ring the bells of grace in their ears long enough and God will break through. Personally I recommend Romans.  Not all of the CoC people are created equal, some who are very unhappy with the churches can be deprogrammed relatively quickly (a few months) but some who really loved the way they operate may take up to a couple years.  And, if you can, get them into another church service, to dispel their notion that all other Christians are stupid and unsaved.

Two parables

The working of sovereign will and human will can be likened to a baby not buckled into a jogging stroller.  The child is free to either stay put or lean forward and fall out of the stroller, but the father and pusher is equally free to permit the action or raise the front end of the stroller and suppress it, which he will do every time to protect his child.

The second parable is of sin. Sin is like a baby playing in a sandbox. She thinks nothing of soiling her hands for pleasure but then cannot get them clean unless she is first shown the need to wash, and then cleaned by a parent.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The verse that makes you a Moderate Calvinist

After studying out of Arminiasm I took hold of the idea for awhile that Christ offers no benefit or atonement for the non-elect, that He came for His church, His bride, and has nothing to do with anyone else, except to pour wrath on them.  John Owen popularized this by taking the most famous verse that speaks to universal atonement John 3:16 and made all mean elect.  But does this idea hold up?  Is it indeed the case that Christ only dies for His sheep and makes no atonement of any kind for the reprobate?  To answer, we look to this verse.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised."

For the love of Christ controls us
The us is the apostolic authorityBecause of God's boundless, inexhaustible love Paul is driven to evangelize everyone and anyone- in stronger language he is bound to it, he must do it, 1 Cor 9:16. 

Because we have concluded this

This is connected with the controlling power: if Christ has come to die for any and all men, then Paul has no grounds to exclude anyone, and must preach to everyone.  The hypers assert that since we don't know who the elect are we must preach to everyone, but that's not what the text says next. 

that One has died for all, therefore all have died

Paul assumes the case of dying for all, and then draws the conclusion based on it.  If it's the case that Jesus died for the sins of all, then their sins are perfectly well paid for.  Or stated more simply: because Jesus did what He intended to, and died in power He certainly paid for every sin.  The sinful record no longer now stands against men, their continued obduracy does.  Their record is clear and will not be charged against them Mark 3:28-29, unless they decided to reject the cross of Christ.
By saying all have died, Paul is not making a reference to the elect as having died to sin permanently and irrevocably, as that is the sense we think of as life.  More on this below.  He is not speaking of faith, or the work of the Spirit, or of regeneration, as the idea of application of this sacrifice is foreign to the text at this point.  The hypers see that Christ achieves effectually everything He intended to, and then insist that the only thing He intends to do is save the elect.  In other words they come with preconceptions and read it into the text. That is what it's not saying. 
Paul instead speaks of all men dying as all men being purchased by a new master (like 2 Peter 2:1).  They have died to their independent rule, their old life, their old ways.  They may persist in their death state, or dead state, but we conclude this: that they are dead, the record of their sins perished with Christ.

And He died for all that those who live might not live for themselves
The first purpose of Christ's death was to conditionally put to death the charge that God the Father holds over all men because of their sinful hearts and deeds.  The second was to sanctify His electI'll skip going into this in detail since it's obvious that Christ came to save the elect by having them obey Him forever, but it's worth noting that the elect live, which is different than dying. 

But for Him who died and for their sakes was raised

This modifies the second point previously asserted, that Christ died so the elect may be sanctified.  Paul now calls out that while it may be true Christ died for the world of men, He rose for the elect.  The highs and hypers assert that Christ died so that He could effectually save the elect; the moderates assert that He rose for the sake of the elect.  The difference is not in the death of Christ, it's in His resurrection.  It's not in the atonement it's in the application thereof. 
 
I'm still not convinced.  How can you assume that all means the world, and not the elect?  
The argument Paul asserts is that the atonement was universal, or for all, although only a part of the whole will enjoy it's benefits.  All die, some live.  The argument could be stated as follows:
Christ has died for all men so that some of those men whom He died for might live for Him. 
Which is pretty much identical to the text.  But if we replace the word all with the world elect as the hypercalvinists suggest we get the following:
Christ has died for all the elect, therefore all the elect have died.  And He died for all the elect that some of them might live for Him.  Some of them?  That would imply that some of the elect don't have salvation.  Backed into a corner  now it's time to admit defeat. The only view that holds up is the moderate understanding.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Inception the movie

I just watched the movie Inception and I was very impressed and delighted with it, it give me a great deal to think about, even if I wasted it being able to only think about one thing.  It was a modern Shakespeare, with the director having the guts to actually hand the audience a part in the movie. 
I don't have any intention of reviewing it or talking about the story, but I did want to share my take on the ending and the clues the plot gives you, and then share what one thing is incessantly running in my mind since watching it.

Warning, Spoilers Below
The end of the movie is a moving, happy experience, when the main character Cobb gets to go home to his sweet children who have been left bereft of their mother since her suicide; only the totem keeps spinning, which means although he is blissfully happy he is really still in a dream.  This is the brilliant part: you have been watching a dream sequence the whole time. In fact, you as the audience are Cobb. Here are the clues:
  1. The dreams are shared by people in the movie.  Cobb can enter into Fichers dreams and direct his mind, which is symbolic for us as the audience entering the directors dream world and story.
  2. Cobb told Ficher while they were at the hotel bar: if you are somewhere without explanation as to how you got there, you are in a dream.  This was for our benefit: when the movie opens we meet Cobb's waking reality only though a series of scene jumps: a helicopter, a train, a plane, a hotel room, a bar, a street, but never do we see him actually experiencing a reel of time. This is our totem, our measuring stick, with it we realize that the movie is about a series of places, in other words, that we are in a non-reality.
  3. In the subconscious world with Mal, she points out that he is being run down by faceless global multinational goons who have power over the U.S. government. Does that sound like reality?  In reality a terrorists father calls to warn about his son and they ignore him, letting him buy a ticket anyway. A movie can get away with these plot liberties because it's fake.
  4. Cobb begins to explain the dream world: it has to be complex enough to be engrossing, but it can never be about an actual place, and it must obey the laws of physics.  This is all really a metaphor for the audience. If your characters are inconsistent or shallow, or your plot line full of holes (Dawn Treader, I'm looking at you) the audience will wake up and remember they are watching a movie.  If you break the laws of science or reason without a good explanation the audience is going to wake (Who didn't think it stupid in Independence Day when a Mac computer virus brought the aliens down.) Lastly, if you show a real place the audience is going to wake up. If you showed me my house on the big screen you have just reminded me of my actual life.  Our mind fills in the gaps of an engrossing story naturally, so a director has to be only good enough to keep us in a trance while our mind does the rest.
The great joke then is that just as Cobb lays down the rules to Ariadne and precedes to break them, so the director breaks all the rules with his audience. No gravity?  Floors bending at 90 degrees? Trains through the middle of a street?  Buildings built on water, the list goes on, we accept them all, which is his way of smiling at us or joking with us.  Our subconscious never turn hostile to try to destroy the director because he has provided a framework for make it acceptable.
The ending has to be this way, the top must spin, because you as the audience are watching it.  Of course it's not real, you are sitting there in reality watching a fiction, this is not reality, it's your dream after all.  As long as he is on the screen it's not real.  But in the end of the movie he gets his kids, his family is reconciled, the U.S. is on his side, his dangerous career is behind him, the dream ends well.  And you walked away having had a pleasurable time out from your normal day.

The thing running through my head for a long time after watching this movie was this: reality is defined not by a continuous thread of time elapsing (we sleep, and as children we may fall asleep one place and wake up elsewhere) but by the nature and existence of God's handiwork.  Reality is what God has made, for He stands above and beyond the natural universe, as an unshakable, immovable, invincible rock, and everyone who builds their foundation on Him will not be swept away or shaken.  Failure to accept Him as the source of reality is disastrous, or as the Scriptures say, a Rock of offense, the cornerstone, whomever He falls on will be crushed and broken.  He is reality, He is real, for He is the creator, all truth and experience flow from His decrees, we are alive because of Him, see because of Him, we think because of Him, we enjoy things because of Him. To accept Christ is therefore to accept reality itself.  Giving your life to Jesus isn't just a good idea, it's imperative- it must be done. It's the rational duty of all men.

Women talk more

1 Peter 3: 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

The likewise is connected with 2:17 in the concept of honor where honor is due.  Peter has been explaining to women that they were created to submit, (in the same way a slave is there to obey no less) and by doing this they bring honor to themselves and their husbands.  Earlier he had commanded all men to submit to the rulers and authorities in all places that God had put there, to give them due honor, and in the same way the 10 commandment demands honor for those due honor when it says honor your father and mother the principle stands that wives are to submit to their husbands. 
Now husbands have a different command than women, since women were made in the subordinate position as helpers to their men, husbands cannot bring honor by submitting to them, but instead are to do so by leading and guiding their families in love.  Or more specifically, husbands bring honor to their wives by living with them in an understanding way; if I might paraphrase, by listening to them.  Wonder why women talk more than men? Perhaps this delight is theirs (and ours) because God is trying to make it easier on us men.  After all, it's much easier to listen to someone who is both a willing and able communicator than it is to listen and lead someone who won't tell you their felt needs or opinions.
The next clause reminds them why they have the need to listen, because women are weaker.  Number one they are in the position of the subordinate, and don't have the final say, so the only recourse they really have is your attention and compassion.  But number two, women are more dainty and fragile, their beauty is in the thinness of the material, making them more vulnerable to emotional harm.  God made men strong and thick skinned so they could lead their family much more naturally than a woman could, and He made you thus to take care of her need, making your strength for her weakness.
Peter then adds, because really you are not leading a slave or a child, but a co-regent, a fellow heir.  Someone who is the other half of you, and so therefore do this in love.
I see the last statement as a follow on to all that he has said earlier.  If you as a man reject what God has made for you then He is going to reject you. If you don't think His plan is good and right then He will punish you for it.  If you are using your thick skin and great strength not to break a path for your wife but on her then He will use His greater strength against you.  If you lead without listening, then He will do the same, for you are going to be treated as you treat her, according to the measure you use it will be measured back unto you.
So  I propose that men delight in their woman's verbal skills.  Just imaging how much harder it would be to be a leader who listens otherwise.

Children's Play

I was thinking today about how ingrained it is in children to build and create things. To make order out of chaos.  We seem to have part of God's image in us that compels us to create.  Little boys seems to prefer creating the material, the fortress, the castle, the wall, the house, while little girls seems to prefer to create the immaterial, society, family, etiquette, communication.  This isn't watertight, as boys will take up a sword or gun to play army, but then again, a gun and an army are both material constructs.
It's further interesting to me how the woman who was created as a subordinate help mate (though co-equal in rights and value) is the one who is predominately inclined to the immaterial.  It could be because it's the job of the man to create, and the job of the woman to make ornate. Or then again maybe not.  More thought is in order.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Communism is indeed wrong

1 Corinthians 9:9-10 - For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 
I'm not one who is terribly concerned about social justice or about activism, or political muscle,but this verse is pretty clear that the whole foundation of a communist government is decidedly anti-scripture.  Thought that was interesting.

In the vein of Prov 27:17 Rojikku also said something worth passing on, and I'll do the NIV thing and just capture the thought.  By examining the fruits of communism which are at every place evil and bitter we see the tree itself is bad.   From the invisible polluted roots (which is the idea of communism) we may see that it's based on bad footing, which was my point above, but from the fruit (the actions of communists) we see how rotten the whole thing really is.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Keeping the Church of Christ afloat

Preamble: This post arises because of my foundational belief is that a church lives or dies by it's theology; teaching a proper understanding of  God and His attributes is critical for a church to grow healthy Biblically.  If it can be shown that a church does not need to have correct theology to please God then my conclusions are not valid.

The theology of the Churches of Christ is being held up at this moment by two pillars: tradition and hymns- one is for all purposes knocked over, and the other is crumbling.  The result is that the CoC will soon collapse utterly because there is no solid doctrinal truth being imparted to the congregations.  What remains will be soon absorbed into more liberal churches. 
(Aside: for those of you unfamiliar with it, the CoC recognize no creeds, catechisms, or confessions.  They admit no document into the building or demand a member conform to a certain doctrinal statement. Therefore what they use to hand down proper theology lies in both tradition and what the people imbibe from singing hymns.  I am aware that there are plenty of sermons and bible classes, but these have no tether to the great theologians of old and are often not at all about the Bible.  That topic is for another time, suffice to say the formal training is not successful at imparting doctrine and can safely be discounted.)

The pillar of tradition has been kicked down for at least 30 years here in California.  CoC Churches are no longer doing what they once did, they are doing what is relevant, or emergent, or what will attract people. Those that are not have largely evaporated or died out as old people churches.

That leaves only songs to impart a right understanding of God from our wise ancestors to the members, but those face two dangers: the first is that new fluff songs like the Days of Elijah are displacing older, solid hymns like Amazing Grace leaving a theological void where the members fill in anything they like. 
The second danger is that many of the classic songs have been monkeyed with by CoC writers. I was shocked the first time I heard Holy Holy Holy which I learned as...Lord God Almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name... God in three parts, blessed eternally.  Some versions I sung growing up went ...God over all and blessed eternally.  Obviously the first song advocates the heresy of Modalism, the second denies the Trinity less explicitly.
The one bright side is that their a-capella format strengthens the impact of the words on the hearer, which is why I suspect they have lasted as long as they have.
The outlook is both bleak and bright.  Bleak because God is taking away their lamp stand.  Bright because He is lighting it elsewhere.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On "Common" Grace

The hyper-Calvinist asserts that God gives men no common grace. But if He did, then it would only be for their condemnation.

I had thought about a long answer, which postulates that a proper hermeneutic gives God maximal glory and cannot reduce His love to human sizes, but after considering it some more, I think it should be answered simply like this: is the idea of a God who dies for reprobates foreign to the Bible or to God's character? Not to a system of logic, to the Bible.
The proof:
Luke 6:27-36 - "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

The high and hyper will still quail and argue it was not His intention to save the reprobate, but I take their argument and break them with it: assume for a moment God's only motivation for sending Christ to die for the reprobate was to show His love to the elect so they might better understand Him.  By sending His Son to die for the reprobate (whom He knows will reject Him) God shows us the highest and greatest amount of love our minds can grasp.
It's an unthinkable quantity. It's an absurd amount. It's frustrating and angering to think of how much He wastes simply to indicate how much more loving kindness He hasBut ultimately it humbles us into quiet reverence.  That Christ would do this thing is astounding, wonderfully, magnificently, a full expression of love from God who is love. It's a lot like when He came to the Earth knowing He would be rejected and killed in fact. And that too is something to meditate on.