Read: Spirit of Love: Loving God
If we are moving with the Spirit, we are moving into love. McLaren takes to the right place–the two great commandments, beginning this week with the first one: loving God.
If you follow Oboedire, you know that I have recently been giving an extended treatment of the way of love in my Friday “For the Bride” posts. But even with this, I was drawn into McLaren’s main points about how we come to the place where we really love God.
It begins by first seeing God as Love, and as McLaren shows, that is not nearly as easy as it might first appear. It is one of the tasks of the Church to reveal God as love (in welcome, worship, and witness), until folks are able to say, “I can love a God like that!” It is why our failure to love drives people farther away, reinforcing their pre-conceived notions about God their negative stereotypes of Christians.
But even when people are able to see God as loving, some will be unable to say, “God loves me.” Abuse, shame, guilt, being treated as “less than,” and a host of other things lead us to conclude that even if God is loving, God would have a hard time loving me. Again, the Church plays the role of midwife, guiding seekers through the labor of self-hatred, doubt, and disbelief–until the “new birth” moment when the realization that we are loved by God bowls us over.
And then, as Mc Laren so beautifully shows, the Spirit moves us farther into the Lover/beloved relationship enabling us to see that it is not that we love God, but that God loves us! God has been waiting for us, not as a digusted deity, but as a delighted parent, who is never happier than when a child comes home! It is then that we learn our decision to love God was inspired by the grace of God, who first loved us.
Loving God means entering into the home that is already ours, walking through a door that is already open, to be seated at a table already set, to feast on food already prepared, and to fellowship with the One who already loves us–and has done so from the Beginning.