Learning From and With The Triune God of Unconditional Love–Entrusting Ourselves to God’s Love
In whom or what do you trust? As Christians, we participate with God in the mission of salvation. And fear should not inhibit our words and deeds for and on behalf of others, particularly those who are suffering. As Gradye Parsons reminds us in Our Connectional Church, being internally strong in the things of God will make us effective, externally, in the World that God loves when he writes, “North Avenue [Presbyterian Church in Atlanta] began in the 1990s to pray about how to reach people who are significantly different from its membership…as the church was thinking about being internally strong and externally focused, a research paper entitled ‘Hidden in Plain View’ came to its attention…the study identified the city of Atlanta as a major hub for human trafficking of children, kids under the age of seventeen.”As the pastor and my friend, the Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer and the leaders at North Avenue read this paper, they discovered that the street corner on which the church campus was situated was identified as a location that was especially problematic for the trafficking of children. Those children, every human being, you and I are made in the image of God. We are wired to live in relationship with God and others. Because of that truth, you can entrust your life to God’s unconditional love, care and mercy. Oh, we believe that, but how do we do it?
The paralysis that sets in when we are asked to think outside the box is best characterized by preoccupation. To be preoccupied is “to dominate or engross the mind of something or someone to the exclusion of other thoughts.”For example, you have just been diagnosed with cancer. You are driving home from the doctor’s appointment. You begin to think through possible outcomes. The next thing you know you are driving thirty miles an hour in a school zone when the yellow light is flashing. You get pulled over by a police officer and are issued a ticket. Your preoccupation with the cancer diagnosis sent you into a world that made you unaware of how fast you were driving.
To be preoccupied with God is a good thing. We can trust God’s love, care and mercy for us. In 1 Corinthians we glean this: Easter Sunday is connected to every Sunday that follows. Think of all the times we have been told we are worthless and there is no hope for us to be any different than we are. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead guarantees all future resurrections from “death patterns” of living, let alone our literal physical death to come. “…the connection between Jesus and us is so intimate, so deep, and so real that his resurrection guarantees our future hope…Because of Jesus, ‘the dead’ have hope.”Jeremiah indicates we have the propensity to do both good and bad things; that our intentions, motives and decisions are never pure or without blemish. We are selfish and God centered. Our words and actions bear good and bad fruit. Yet, the more we rest in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the benefits in knowing and experiencing that God’s unconditional love, care and mercy for and toward us always wins, the inclination of our heart will lean more toward grace, forgiveness and love for others. And Luke reminds us that people really do want to know Jesus. People wanted to hear Jesus teach. They wanted their diseases healed. And, they wanted to be transformed by the Messiah to live God’s intended destiny for them.
Is it the case today that people want Jesus? Some do. Deep within, everyone does. Therein lies the opportunity for authentic relationships of love, care and mercy. Christians can be a blessing to those who seem to be marginalized from the love, care and mercy of God. And from others as well for that matter. How can you make progress in being set free from a worldview and lifestyle of self-centeredness to begin a life of authentically serving and loving others into trusting God’s love, care and mercy for them? Take responsibility for the things in your life that you find not loving, caring or merciful. Avoid affixing blame. Develop an action plan to move forward.
Geneva Presbyterian Church is becoming internally stronger in the basic practice of loving God and loving others. Our external focus begs the question, who is our neighbor? Immigration, homelessness, the impact of “white privilege” both positively and negatively and economic disparity show us our neighbors. Who is your neighbor? How do you engage him or her? Donald K. McKim writes, “Trust is faith. Trust is enacted faith…Faith is the trust that responds to Jesus’ command: ‘Follow me.’ Faith is the trust to love others. Faith is the trust to continue living as God desires and as Jesus showed us.”
The Spirit of God is moving in your life. Respond to God’s love for you in Jesus Christ. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Reaffirm your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Then and only then will you be able to entrust yourself to God’s love, care and mercy. Only then will you be able to serve and love real people who live in a real world who have real needs.
Gradye Parsons, Our Connectional Church(Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 43.
Concise Oxford Dictionary Tenth Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1129.
Beth Felker Jones in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 248.
Donald K. McKim in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1, 243.