Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Christian Spirituality II: God is Love

Firstly. God is love.
If we are going to understand a spirituality, then we cant avoid talking about what we think the Spirit is that we are dealing with. What you believe about God, or the ultimate or the spiritual or whatever, will condition what you think spirituality is about. If you think God is essentially an authoritarian rulemaker, then your spirituality will be about keeping rules. If you think to be spiritual is to be not-physical, then your spirituality will be about escaping the body. If you think God is essentially the logical first Cause of everything, then your spirituality will be about finding logical cause and effect links between everything.
The key essence of God that John gives us here is that God is love. v8, v16. Not simply that God is loving , or that sometimes he loves, but that God IS love. Christians believe that when you strip everything else away, at the heart of what it means to be God is love.
Love is the stuff God is made of. At the centre of the universe is an other person centred relationship.
This comes from the christian recognition of Jesus as the Son of God. To be God isn’t to be alone, but to be the Father who loves the Son and gives him all things, and to be the Son who loves the Father and honours him in everything, and to be the Spirit who is loved by and loves the Father and the Son. This relationship, this bond of love that is God is so strong that each person lives in the other. We see this earlier in 1John , where he says whoever has the Son has the Father and whoever has the Father has the Son, or in the gospel of John 14:10, I am in the Father and the father is in me
Christian theologians have come up with all sorts of different images to help us understand this difficult concept of God as love.
Some use the image of a meal, with the Father, Son and Spirit sitting around it. Like one of those great dinner parties where everyone jjust clicks and no one dominates and all enjoy each others company.
Others use the evocative image of a dance. The love of God is like the never ending whirling of a dance where each makes space for the other, responds perfectly to the other
Others describe God’s love like music, where there is a perfect harmony of different parts.

The best image we have however, is the way in which God has loved us, and that brings us to our next point.

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