God is love.
I want you to think about what love does.
We have a beautiful list in Holy Scripture that is recounted at nearly every Christian wedding, called the way of love from I Corinthians 13
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Sometimes we read that list a little too quickly and forget to meditate upon each phrase that we could easily spend whole sermons upon themselves, for example, simply thinking about how the love of God is patient and what patiently loving looks like in our own lives.
But one thing we notice is that each description or phrase in this loving list has an object of that love and is directed towards that object. Love is patient because the people we love stretch our patience. Love shows kindness even to strangers. Love does not insist on its own way, love does not force itself upon others. Love always goes towards someone. Love is directed outwards towards the object of that love. Of course, we recognize healthy self-love, which recognizes our own worth in this world. But we still find ourselves, when confronted with someone that loves themselves, that if that love doesn’t leave the self and go out towards others we kinda look at it funny and say that’s not quite right. Love is meant to GO somewhere!
So when we say that God is love what do we mean? Is God the epitome of self-love, love that stays only within. We have plenty of examples of gods and goddesses from mythology who embody just that kind of self-love: like Zeus or the goddess Aphrodite. But love for self without love for others is merely selfish and self-indulgent, not anything that we would recognize as real love. Love must Go somewhere!
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the day in the church year when we pay particular attention to the revealed nature of God as God has shown us in witness and word. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Not three Gods but one God in perfect unity, three persons in the one Holy Trinity. The nature of God by definition to us who are mortal is a mystery and that we know anything at all is because God has revealed it to us. But this mystery that is so profound is summed up in those three simple words that speak volumes in themselves: God is love. If God is love then it cannot be simple selfish, self-indulgent self-love that isn’t real love, love must Go somewhere. The Holy Trinity is perfect love and that love goes from Father to Son, and Son to Spirit, and Spirit to Father. Perfect love within God that is not self-love but love that goes and still not three gods but one God from eternity. Perfect love that goes somewhere.
Love spoke into the darkness and said let there be light.
Love created all that there is before anything at all existed, so that Love could go out into the world.
Love never left His creation even when His creation turned away from true love and went its own way into selfish, self-indulgent, self-love.
Love never ends but Goes to where love is needed. So the Father sent the Son into the world that had forgotten how to love. True love from eternity came into our world in Jesus. Jesus came to love us and turn us away from our selfish, self-indulgent self-love that only leads us to a hell of our own making and to turn us toward the love of God that holds us eternally. Love bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things- just look to the Cross of Christ to see what true love really looks like.
Just as the Father sent the Son into our world, love goes where love is needed, so now the Son is sending you, love goes where love is needed.
“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them all that I have commanded you…”
This passage is called the great commission or really the great going, because that first word is so important, GO! We have this very real tendency to separate our Christian faith from the rest of our life. We like to compartmentalize things. I have my work life. I have my family life. I have my church life. I have my life out with the guys or the girls. I have my private life that I really don’t want anyone to see. But this simple word GO is meant to cut across all of that. A better translation of that word Go from the Greek would be “in your going…” that is, in your living, while you are going to work, to home, to family, to church, to hang out with the guys or the girls, when you are going to your private life, love is sending you to be the love of God in Jesus Christ in all of your goings.
I think sometimes we make this going out in Christian love thing way too difficult and complicated. We have things like the 10 steps to Christian witnessing or Christian witnessing made easy. We have formalized and scheduled mission trips both abroad and local. We have televangelists and Christian celebrity speakers and professional church workers. Not that any of these things are wrong, they are helpful and good and positive things to do. But I worry that it sets up this image that ministry and mission and witnessing and the like is a special thing far above or removed and different from our daily, day in and day out, everyday kind of life.
But, when we come right down to it, it’s not that complicated after all; the Love of God in Jesus goes to where love is needed. There is not one area of your life or of the lives of the people around us where true love, the love of God from eternity, does not need to go. So just as the Father has sent the Son, now Son has sent you, to be love of God that goes into the world. Love goes and you are that love in Jesus. Amen.