It is easy to turn God’s love into an abstraction, but God’s love is not a philosophical virtue. God’s love is real passionate desire for all of creation. I think people are on target when they talk about the furious or jealous love of God. Love is not esoteric, that is why I loved Eric’s post yesterday. He describes the embrace of Jesus in real human history.
Any talk of love makes me think of the Trinity. Trinitarian discourse is sparse in many Christian circles. The mystery of the Trinity is a place holder on belief pages on our websites, but it rarely finds its way to our common life. Ours is a Triune God, and God’s Triunity is more than just a piece of theology. The Trinity factors into the practical life, especially how we understand love and mission.
Catherine LaCugna says, “The doctrine of the Trinity is not about God in isolation from everything other than God, but a teaching about God’s life with us and our life with each other.” God’s life consists of reciprocal relations. The story of Father, Son, and Spirit is one in which the three are constituted by each other, and through Christ, God opens his life to the world. This mutuality of the Godhead should become the grammar for the churches relationship to each other and the world. The beauty of the Godhead is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit submitting to and glorifying one another.
It is a beautiful mystery that the three personalities exist in complete communion.
The Triune life of God displays the openness to the other. The fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is other than creation, but it is open to embrace creation itself. This God creates and welcomes the other out of the overflow of the divine love. God’s openness to creation means God and all creation are brought into a relationship with one another. They are tied together; God and humanity are in communion with one another. This life of communion is an intentional dialectical interaction, in which there is the full practice of assertion and abandonment. This means God is more than just the actor, but God is connected to creation in such a way that God is moved by creation. The relationship with God lives in the duality of praise and lament. The social Trinity awards the Christian an imagination of community. As we dwell with the Godhead, we learn to act out of the divine life. Because God is love, the church is invited to share this love with others. Just as the Godhead is open to the other, the church must look outside itself and welcome the stranger.
God is love. This is not simply to say God is loving. The activity of love is a reality of our God, yet God is much more. God is love. This means the very nature or being of God is love. In this sense God must be in relations to another. Proceeding from this truth is either the mandate of creation (because God had to have an other to love). The triune God models a being in communion, the God of one substance but three persons, who submits to one another. Mission then starts as we make room within ourselves just as Christ did for us. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourself as because it is God’s posture to the world.