• Steven Marsh

Connecting With Others in the Unconditional Love of the Triune God– Being Okay, Happy or in Lo

We are loved by theTriune God of unconditional love. We are more than “okay”or “happy.”We are “in love.”The first reading from 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that God makesus brand new people, from the inside out.That, my friends, is the significance of trusting Jesus as your Savior and Lord. God makesus brand new people, from the inside out.Paul is living proof of that. Before Paul’s conversion, let us not forget that Paul “carries concrete memories of participating in state-sanctioned murder, of crashing into people’s homes and dragging mothers and fathers off to prison.”[1]

Thegospel, the good news of liberation and freedom in Jesus,confronts our misunderstanding of Scripture, Christand grace. If we experiencedthe gospelthatthe Bible illumines,Christ exposesandgracecaptures, we wouldknow in mind, soul, and spirit personal liberation and freedomin Jesus. Why?  The unconditional love of the Triune Godis real.Robert Farrar Capon writes,

You’re worried about permissiveness–about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it’s okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God’s forgiveness…While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He’s angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue–that music, dancing, and a fattened calf are, in effect, just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one thing: “Cut that out! We’re not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother was dead and he’s alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not bookkeeping.”[2]

Resurrection, not bookkeeping.That is the context of experiencing the unconditional love of God.

Lent is the time we get in-touch with ourbookkeepingselves, the part of us that settles

for “being okay”and “being happy.”Because were so concerned about keeping score, we focus on keeping othersin the tomb. Resurrection is coming my friends. That’s the good news of Easter. Resurrection is the ticket to “being in love.”The gospel confronts our self-centeredness. Settling for being okay and/or happy is rooted in human selfishness. Think about it. Our existence is not our own.

In 2 Corinthians 5, we are taught that God reconciled the world to God’s self, not God’s self to theworld. This is Luke’s messageas well. Reconciliation is God’s work. Keeping score is out. Unconditional love is in. And Psalm 32 continues the theme. Being happy is a deep contentment of knowing that one’ssins are forgiven, being reconciled. Salvation is a continualinvitation to be defined by God’s grace.We are loved, not because of our goodness or our badness, but because we are created in the image ofGod. Randy Frazee is rightwhen he challenges Christians to find a common place for community with one another. Community that finds a common place around which to gather is one that is spontaneous, available, values frequency of gathering, shares meals and a shared geography.[3]  This shared community is rooted in the unconditional love of the Triune God.

God desires each of us to be fully embraced by and experience the unconditional love of the God. Let the gospel confront your absence of hope; your brokenness; your merit-based thinking; your disbelief; and your self-centeredness so that you begin to experience and live into your reconciliation with God. You are unconditionally loved by the Triune God.

[1]William Greenway in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 85.

[2]Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three,Christianity Today, Vol. 30, No. 7.

[3]See Randy Frazee, The Connecting Church 2.0(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013), 89-105.

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