• Steven Marsh

The Unconditional Love of the Triune God Beckons Us To Serve–Quality of Love and Life: a Refle

Apologist Ravi Zacharias relates the following story:

I particularly like to warn my American audiences about this. Freedom is not the same thing as autonomy. Freedom does not mean I am a law unto myself. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, speaking to a hostile university audience that jeered him, stopped in the middle, and in non-regal language he said, “Shut up! Freedom can be destroyed as easily by making a mockery of it as it can by its retraction.” That’s precisely what man has done. In an attempt to be reasonable, man has become irrational. In an attempt to deify himself, he has defaced himself. In an attempt to be free, he has made himself a slave. And like Alexander the Great, he has conquered the world around him but has not yet conquered himself.[1]

There is freedom in experiencing the unconditional love of the Triune God. Your quality of love and life becomes autonomously interdependent with God and others.

The texts in 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14, Luke 9:51-62 and Galatians 5:1, 13-25 speak to the importance of one’s quality of love and life. Here’s the bottom line: reason and faith effect change. How you think about God and trust in God matters for your quality of love and life. Citing Scott Sunquist, Christopher J.H. Wright furthers John Stott’s corrective to a dichotomy in understanding and experiencing evangelism:

In evangelism, we start with a single quality of God in Jesus Christ rather than starting with a dichotomy of word and works, or evangelism and justice, or preaching and social justice. We should be a little suspicious if a person talks about “both sides” of the life of Jesus…Jesus was a whole person, filled to overflowing with the kenotic, self-emptying love of God.[2]

The story of Elijah in 2 Kings 2 demonstrates that critical reasoning equips us to give disruptive critique of social injustice and oppressive forms of power and spiritual visioning assists us to see how evil works in the world. Luke 9 reminds us that Jesus would not be defined by the miracles he performed. Jesus used critical reasoning and spiritual visioning more often than miracles to teach, heal and recruit followers. And Galatians 5 illustrates that freedom is impactful on one’s life when it’s characterized by living out a vision for how things could be. In this way, we dare to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Humanity’s quality of love and life can be different.[3]

The quality of love and life that Jesus lived calls for change that benefits the common good. God’s unconditional love beckons each one of us to allow God to serve us and we in turn to serve others. Use critical reasoning and spiritual visioning to understand the freedom you have. Because of God’s unconditional love for you, the quality of love and life you can experience is radically freeing.

[1]Ravi Zacharias, “The Lostness of Humankind,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 118.

[2]Christopher J. H. Wright citing Scott Sunquist, Understanding Christian Mission, 320in John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 52.

[3]My thinking and visioning in this paragraph has been shaped by Gregory L. Cuellar, Stephen Boyd and Renata Furst in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019),108-110, 122-123 and 117-119.

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