• Steven Marsh

Connecting With Others in the Unconditional Love of the Triune God–Coming Home to Love: a Refl

Can followers of Jesus relearn to be evangelists, that is sharers of good news in word and deed? Jonathan Edwards, the great 18thcentury Reformed theologian in a sermon titled “They Sing a New Song” remarks, “…there yet remains…to be accomplished, bringing the whole world to Christian faith and settling the world in that state of light, peace and holiness…”[1]

In Philippians 3, we learn that every human yearns for the love of home, that place of truly belonging. We yearn for the love of home, because we often experience exploitation and powerlessness. In John 12 we see Mary coming home to love in her extravagance. continues. She could only give her best to Jesus. Psalm 126 was used by the Jewish people when they journeyed to Jerusalem for the high holy day observances. The first three verses look to the past and the last three point to the future. A previous condition is remembered, but the aspirational future is claimed. God loves the people and the people want to return to that “home” experience of love. The psalmist reminds us that the journey of relationship with God is all about returning home. Home is being embraced by the Triune God of unconditional love.

Coming home to the love of God leads us to continue living a life that remains faithful, loving and beneficial to all concerned. Because Christians claim the hope and confidence that God will vindicate all that is wrong and troublesome, we believe God will save us in and through unconditional love. The past and future of being saved means knowing God in Christ and being found in God in Christ. Salvation is ours, because God acted through Israel and through Christ Jesus, “and continues to act even outside the boundaries of our understanding, in order to bring a new creation into being, despite our attempts to contain it.”[2]This way we can know the power of Jesus’ resurrection in our daily lives.

We are living in a time of great uncertainty. In Germany, anti-Semitism is back with vengeance. A domestic violence bill advances in the House of Representatives with stricter gun controls. Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old college student in South Carolina, was stabbed to death when she got into a car, she thought was her Uber. But it was not. The driver of that car was a predator.[3]Oh, the church has a voice in helping the predator and victim, abuser and abused, hater and hated to come home to love. “In our journey with God, we, with all the complexity of our history, are now being readied by Lent for Easter, which is the ultimate proof that God can be relied upon to do a glorious new thing.”[4]Randy Frazee is right when he challenges Christians to be best neighbors. In fact, putting ourselves in “the place of our neighbors” attempting to walk where they’re walking, will find favor with them because of the kindness and character of our lives.[5]Orienting yourself to the needs of your neighbor models coming home to love.

The message of the Bible is salvation. Belief in Jesus Christ saves us from ourselves and false saviors. Our assurance of salvation is not based on merit, only grace. Let’s participate with other Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations[6]in building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eliminating systemic poverty. Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980. He once proclaimed,  “Even when they call us mad, when they call us subversives and communists and all the epithets they put on us, we know we only preach the subversive witness of the Beatitudes, which has turned everything upside down…”[7]Coming home to the unconditional love of the Triune God is the fullness of our salvation.

[1]Jonathan Edwards in his sermon “They Sing a New Song.” Found in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 22, edited by Harry S. Stout and Nathan O. Hatch, with Kyle P. Farley (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 231.

[2]Richard F. Ward in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 2, 103.

[3]Incidents gleaned from The New York Times, Friday, April 5, 2019.

[4]Leigh Campbell-Taylor 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), 99.

[5]See Randy Frazee, The Connecting Church 2.0(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013), 107-121.

[6]See Matthew 25 in the PC(USA): A bold vision and invitationat http://www.pcusa.org

[7]Cited on the Facebook page of Unfundamentalist as taken from the website of Center For Prophetic Imagination http://www.cpimn.org

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