Vs. 9: "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, 'It is my people': and they shall say, 'The Lord is my God.'"
Today I am going to talk about "The Crucible of Love." It is a book long out of print, and many of you in my congregation cannot read anyway. It is a study in the mysticism of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.
In brief, the foundation of the whole relationship between ourselves and God is neither one of tit-for-tat on the one hand, nor of blind arbitrary despotism on the other. We have no rights vis-a-vis God, but neither does God insists on His rights. The only basis of all our relationship with God is that of love; a love which is essentially self-giving, which goes beyond what is merited, which delights above all is spending and being spent--unlimited generosity.
The Christian must engage in this unlimited generosity because only in so doing can he make any fitting response to the infinite incomprehensible love of God. We are, after all, promised very little in this life but persecution and tribulation; and only great Christian love and generosity will enable us to accept this as the purging of the fruitful branch, and chastisement of the Chilren of God. Yet, whatever we may suffer in the crucible of love that consumes our dross and refines our gold is not to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us hereafter--as blessed St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans.