• Steven Marsh

The Unconditional Love of the Triune God Beckons Us To Serve–The Complexity of Love: a Reflect

John Archibald Wheeler was a theoretical physicist and colleague of Albert Einstein. The man who coined the term “black hole,” Wheeler was possessed by the search for a unified theory of reality; a unifying idea of reality. Wheeler thought the answer was not an equation, but an idea. And when that unifying idea was discovered it would be so compelling that scientists would say, “How could it be otherwise?”[1]

Today, science pursues the superstring theory, an attempt at linking the theory of relativity which explains the nature and behavior of all phenomena on the macroscopic level (things that are visible to the naked eye) and quantum theory which explains the nature and behavior of all phenomena on the microscopic (atomic and subatomic) level, as the unified field theory that unifying idea of reality.[2]In theology, loving God and others is the unifying idea of reality. The Bible makes that case beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation.

The texts in Amos 8:1-12, Luke 10:38-42 and Colossians 1:15-28 address the complexity of love; loving God and others. Here’s the bottom line: Selfishness opposes love. Love transforms injustice into justice. In many ways, we live in times like those during the prophesy of Amos. Business practices were riddled with dishonesty. People built lives of comfort on the backs of the poor and marginalized. Selfishness permeated life. Luke 10 reminds us that our bias for binary thinking, that is making decisions in an either/or way, between exclusive alternatives, may not be the most helpful. Mary and Martha needed each other. Hospitality, listening and doing go together. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae explains that we must provide answers to questions that people are asking not questions we think they should ask. The real-life struggles and hopes of all people must be taken seriously. All people are precious to God and created in the image of God.[3]

Selfishness opposes love. It promotes greed, preference and injustice. God’s love opposes selfishness. It promotes altruism and sacrifice. The mission of God is to redeem creation; to transform injustice into justice. And that mission is what we are invited to engage. John Stott in Christian Mission in the Modern World writes,

Dialogue is a token of Genuine Christian love, because it indicates our steadfast resolve to rid our minds of the prejudices and caricatures that we may entertain about other people, to struggle to listen through their ears and look through their eyes so as to grasp what prevents them from hearing the gospel and seeing Christ, to sympathize with them in all their doubts, fears and “hang-ups.”[4]

The complexity of love requires dialogue with others and listening to God. For God’s unconditional love shapes our identity as it exposes the injustices of selfishness. The complexity of love requires us to join Jesus in experiencing the kingdom of God. For God’s unconditional love brings the presence of God near to us in all circumstances. And the complexity of love requires us to admit that the church is God’s idea not ours. For God’s unconditional love motivates through authenticity, humility, integrity, sensitivity and obedience.

God’s unconditional love beckons you to allow God to serve you and you in turn to serve others. Bear God’s light in a world that is losing its way. The complexity of love requires nothing other than rejecting hate and embracing justice. Be the best neighbors.

[1]Adapted from John Archibald Wheelerin Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World (San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1999), 2.

[2]Adapted from the website of definitions and resources named WhatIs.com.

[3]My thinking in this paragraph has been corroborated by Matthew Richard Schlim and Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Stanley P. Saunders, Hierald E. Osorto, Linda McKinnish Bridges and John M. Buchanan 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),162-163, 164-165, 175-177, 177-179, 170-172 and 172-174.

[4]John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 118-119.

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