hold-hands-hold-hand-loving-couple

The Sine Qua Non of the Kingdom

In contrast to the habit of judgment which I challenged in the previous post, God calls his people to love the way that God loves. But what exactly does this mean? People have a lot of screwy ideas about “love” today. We use the word “love” to mean a lot of different things, from sexual intercourse (“making love”) to affection for objects (“I love my iPhone”) to friendship (“I love my friends at the bar”) to personal affirmations (“I love your new hair style”).

Thankfully, the Bible removes all ambiguity surrounding the word “love” by pointing us to the cross. “This is how we know what love is,” John says, “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16). This is the kind of love that defines God’s eternal nature, and this is the kind of love we are empowered to express to all others when we become his children.

In fact, manifesting Calvary-like love is the defining mark of a child of God, which is why Jesus taught us to love even our enemies “that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Our Father loves indiscriminately – like the rain falls and the sun shines – and we make it clear that we are “born from above” when we manifest this love (Matt 5:44-45).

Along the same lines, manifesting indiscriminating love is the most basic distinguishing mark of the kingdom of God. We enthrone Christ as King of our life when we agree with him that each and every person was worth him dying for and that each and every person therefore has unsurpassable worth, totally apart from any assessment of their moral character. This is precisely why a kingdom person must follow Jesus example to the point where they are willing to be killed at the hands of threatening enemies rather than judging them to be unworthy of life by killing them in self-defense.

This radical Calvary-like love seems foolish, if not immoral, to the world, which shouldn’t surprise us since this is how the message of the cross strikes the world (I Cor 1:18, 24). And yet, manifesting this kind of love is the sina qua non of the kingdom. According to Paul, it is impossible for any activity, however impressive, to have any kingdom value if it lacks this kind of love. You can speak in tongues, give prophecies, have incredible insights into God’s greatest mysteries, possess all knowledge, manifest miracle-working power, and even appear to make great sacrifices for others, but if these things are not motivated by Calvary-like love, Paul says they are altogether worthless. The only thing that matters, Paul adds, is “faith expressing itself through love” (I Cor 13:1-3).

To the degree that the cruciform God reigns in an individual or a church, they will look cruciform. They will be expressing the unsurpassable worth of all others by sacrificing on their behalf – even when these others are threatening enemies. They will, in short, love others in the same self-sacrificial way Jesus loved them.

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Category:
Tags: , ,
Topics:

Related Reading

Love and Free Will

God could have easily created a world in which nothing evil could ever happen. But this world would not have been capable of love. God could have preprogrammed agents to say loving things and to act in loving ways. He could even have preprogrammed these automatons to believe they were choosing to love. But these…

Mother’s Day

Alain Bachellier via Compfight Happy Mother’s Day to all of our beautiful, luminous ReKnew moms and moms-to-be! And comfort and love to those who grieve lost children this Mother’s Day. You’re in our hearts and prayers.

Sermon Clip: Tough To Love

Learning how to love the people in our life that we find challenging to deal with is often very difficult. This week in Heart Smart Greg Boyd looks at some biblical examples and instructions on how to love our enemies in the same way we love our friends. Full Sermon Here: http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermon/tough-to-love

The Rule of Love

The traditional confession that Scriptura sacra sui ipsius interpres (“Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter”) presupposes that there is one divine mind behind Scripture, for example. Moreover, Church scholars have traditionally assumed that Scripture’s unity can be discerned in a variety of concepts, motifs, themes and theologies that weave Scripture together. And to speak specifically of the…

Knowing the Eternal God

If all our knowledge about God is to be oriented around the cross, as I argue in many places (see this post for instance), what does this mean for how we reflect on God’s transcendence? In other words, how can we speak of God’s eternal being since there obviously was no cross within God prior…

The Greatest Mystery of the Christian Faith

God has always been willing to stoop to accommodate the fallen state of his covenant people in order to remain in a transforming relationship with them and in order to continue to further his sovereign purposes through them. Out of love for humankind, Scripture tells us, Jesus emptied himself of his divine prerogatives, set aside…