• Steven Marsh

Connecting With Others in the Unconditional Love of the Triune God– Meet Love in the Emptiness

Christopher Smith writes, “There’s a difference between a religious community and a real community.”[1]Jesus says, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”[2]Whatever doubts you bring to church this day, a better way of living is available to you.

The Revelation to John depicts the return of Jesus as imminent. God will judge each of us according to the life we have lived. This can cause us to doubt our worthiness to be loved by God. Here’s the bottom line. God is not looking for followers of Jesus who perform perfectly or heroically. No. God desires us to confess our sins, give thanks, participate with God in the salvific message of grace and practice hospitality. In John 17, we read the conclusion of Jesus’ prayer that begins at verse 1. Jesus prayed these words right before his arrest. Jesus prays for unity, familiarity and glory among his followers as they will launch the church following his death, resurrection and ascension. Believers can be one, because God is one as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Believers can be familiar with who God is, because God as Creator, Redeemer and Comforter dwells within each believer. And believers can give God the glory, because Jesus lives his life in and through each who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The psalmist declares that God’s love meets us in the emptiness of life, those places of doubt. In fact, when we embrace the doubts, God walks with us in their resolution. We can exclaim with the psalmist that God’s name is more powerful than any other name. Debilitating words spoken by a friend, spouse, child or our own self critique do not have power over us. When we doubt that God calls us “beloved” we need to meet love in that emptiness.

We are called to live in community just like the Triune God lives in community with God’s self. Randy Frazee in his book The Connecting Church 2.0 reminds us that we are to be in relationship with one another to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives, others’ lives and in the world.[3]Now on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Sunday before Pentecost, have a singular focus on meeting God’s unconditional love in the emptiness of your life. It is there that you know, we know, all is well with our souls.

Experiencing the unconditional love of God is not an articulation of or adherence to a particular set of beliefs or practices. It is, however, a way of sharing life with others, seven days a week, not just on Sundays, that is concerned with everyone in the community flourishing.Remembering, telling and living the way of Jesus is not a method to live by but proclamation, in word and deed, of astonishingly good news.Rest in God’s love and love others. Christ is with us. Grace is a gift.[4]

[1]C. Christopher Smith in “Cultivating Proximity” as found in The Christian Century, May 8, 2018, 28.

[2]John 17:21

[3]Randy Frazee, The Connecting Church 2.0(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013), 241.

[4]For further insights regarding this paragraph read Sharyn Dowd and Timothy Gombis 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), 309-312.

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