When we look at Jesus, we see that God wants to be with us. He comes to us wanting to be with us as one of us. Jesus also shows us that God wants us to be with him responding to his love. Jesus gathered fellow humans simply to be with him. And he always wanted to know if they truly loved him. That’s what God always wants.
But how can we love him? Naturally, we are always turned in on ourselves if left to ourselves. It is impossible for us to respond freely to God’s love. However, by his Spirit, Jesus lives his own life of love in and through us. Each one can now say, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” God doesn’t give himself to us in love then say, now you must respond to my love out of yourselves. No! He takes us up into the fellowship that he has in himself. Through Jesus and by the Spirit, he moves towards us to create fellowship with us. And by his Spirit, through Jesus, he enables us to love in response to his love. We actually join in the fellowship of life and love that God is. In this way, God is with us in love and we are with God in love.
Within this fellowship, God has what he wants and he gives what he wants. Now we can say, there is no greater good outside of our fellowship that we still have to discover. There is no greater good arising out of our fellowship that is even better than the fellowship. In loving us into this fellowship God gives us everything.
The God of love wants to be ours and he wants us to be his. He wants us to belong together as we share in his communal life. God’s giving is always the giving of HIMSELF as he opens himself to us. And in opening himself to us he shares his own life with us-the life of love in communion. Thomas Torrance writes, “God has opened himself to us…and established an intimate two-way relation between himself and us and us and himself, making himself accessible to us and giving us entry into the inner fellowship of God’s own life”.
God has always lived in relationship. He has never been a solitary being; he has always lived as relationship. At the centre of the universe is not cosmic power or force, but rather relationship. The living God has always been the communion of three persons mutually indwelling one another in love. And the three have always wanted to include us within their own communion of joyful love.
God’s Spirit brings us into union with Jesus so that we actually share in this circle of love as Abba’s children. Within this communion, we now see that this is the very reason for our existence and for every other person who lives or has ever lived on this planet. There is nothing more for which we need to strive. For within this fellowship we are at rest enjoying the life for which we were created.
As dearly loved children, we are called to walk in love. We may think that we already know what love is. But do we really? Karl Barth tells us we can never know the real meaning of love from some chosen master-concept of love in general. We must rather turn our eyes on Jesus as the revelation of God’s love. For through Jesus, God opens himself to us showing his love for us and the kind of love he calls for in response. Therefore, when defining true love, we can only look at Jesus. Only he shows us what true love is.
How can we walk in such love? We cannot naturally love this way. Where does this love come from? In spite of our natural lack of love, we are met by Jesus in the Spirit. In that living encounter, Jesus comes to us as the one who loved us and gave himself for us. And, in that same encounter, the love of God is poured freely into our hearts by his Spirit. Now we know that we are deeply loved and called to walk in love as the Spirit of love works the love of God within us. We work out the love in our daily walk, but only as the God who is love works his own love within us. We must always remember that it is as dearly loved children that we are called to walk in love. And so we never turn our eyes on our own love, but only on the love that God is for us and in us
Through Jesus, God opens his own loving heart to us. He also pours his love into our hearts by his Spirit. Now we know for sure that we are deeply loved. Being loved by God we can, as it were, look into His heart. As we do so, we are aware that we only gaze into the loving heart of God through Jesus and by his Spirit. For God has opened his heart to us only in Jesus.
As we look into this loving heart, we see that God’s love for us moves in fullness towards us from the fountain of love that God is within himself. So we know for sure, that God is love in himself before his loving us, and without being forced to love us. Truly, we cannot say anything higher or better of the inner life of God than this: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a communion of self-giving love.
We say all this only in the light of the outward expression of his love in Jesus. This love is demonstrated in all of Jesus’ encounters with others as the man for others. And ultimately in the cross where God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. God has no need to love us, and we have no claim upon His love. Nevertheless, he is simply the one who loves us.
Jesus relationship with his Father in the Spirit opens to us the God who is a fullness of joyful love. We see that God is not a still and static essence. He is rather a dynamic communion of joyful love and life. Gazing at this triune love, we see that without us and without the world God would not experience any lack of love within himself.
However, the love that God is within himself overflows towards us with dynamism and delight and desire. And the love overflows towards us seeking fellowship with us. God does not have to move towards us in this way. There is nothing lacking in God that means he really must add to his own communion. No! The circle of Triune love is a FULNESS of shared life. So God doesn’t have to move towards us seeking fellowship with us in order to be fulfilled. On the contrary, rather than lacking anything, the fellowship of Father and Son in the Spirit is so full that it simply overflows seeking to include us within the fellowship.
Dynamic, and relational movement belongs to the very being of the God who is love. He is an infinite fountain of self-giving love that moves towards us from the inner depths of who the Triune God is. And his desire is always to take us up into the inner relations of God’s own life and love. In union with Jesus by the Spirit we are gathered up to dwell with God and in God. In this, we do not become divine, but rather more authentically human in union with Jesus, the true human.
Jesus, the dearly loved Son, was always turned towards his Father in love. He delighted in his Father. He obeyed his Father freely from love. He always honoured the Father because he loved his Father more than his own life. In all these ways, Jesus related to his Father in the Spirit so that he overflowed with joy in the Father. As we look at Jesus we also see the Father turned towards his Son in delight. Jesus is the beloved Son in whom the Father is always well pleased. And the Father was continually present to Jesus with delight in the Spirit.
So when we look at Jesus the first thing we see is that God is a fellowship of self-giving love. In this fellowship, the three are continually sharing in each other’s delights and desires, in each other’s loves and longings, in each other’s pleasures and pursuits. They are dynamically one in the sharing of life and love. C.S Lewis called this “The Great Dance”.
Apart from Jesus, we know nothing of the Triune God in the eternal realms. But what we see in Jesus during his earthly life unveils who God is eternally. God is a fellowship of mutual joy and love and life and energy and joy. He is not a still and static essence; he is a joyful fellowship sharing a fullness of life and love. In himself, apart from us, God IS love and he is love in dynamic and personal fellowship. It is this God, who now calls us to walk in love as we live in him and he lives in us.
The God who is love calls us to walk in love. Are we called to walk in love because we now have the ability to love? Where does our love come from? Left to ourselves, we do not love. However, in spite of our natural lack of love we are met by Jesus in the Spirit and that encounter changes everything.
In the Presence of Jesus, we are aware that we have failed to love God and others. Indeed, we are those who are always hostile to God wanting nothing to do with him. Nevertheless, as we meet Jesus, we are aware that he is the one who loved us and gave himself for us. And in that same encounter, the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Spirit freely given. So we now know that we are deeply loved and called to walk in love as the Spirit of love works the love of God within us.
We must continually remind ourselves that God does not love us because we love. Rather, we love because he loves us. For the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me continually loves me and goes on giving himself to me. I no longer live, but he lives in me to live his own life of love in and through me. And so, in him and with him and through him we are enabled to walk in love.
God has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And this same God moves towards us personally uniting us to Jesus by his Spirit. That means our life in union with Jesus begins with God’s love. We are not united to Jesus because of something in us that makes it happen. Nothing at all precedes God’s love for us. We live in Jesus and he lives in us simply because of God’s free love. And now, within this union, we know that we are deeply loved. With John, we say, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
As those who are loved, we are called to walk in love. That means living a life of love for the God who has loved us and for others. Recognising, that we are only enabled to love as the Father’s Son lives in and through us by his Spirit. We may feel we are called to much more than love? However, the God who is love shows us there is nothing higher or better than love for God and for others. Love is simply the greatest thing in the entire world. Paul says love is “the most excellent way”. Indeed, unlike faith and hope, love remains forever (1 Cor 13:8). For, as Jonathan Edwards says, “Heaven is a world of love”. So we walk in love knowing that to love is to live in God as he lives in us.
The Father’s Son, has become one with us as Jesus. He has become God with us so that we might be with God. And God’s Spirit joins us to Jesus so that we are in him as he is in us. In this living union with the Father’s Son we are taken into the Triune Communion to share in the life and love of God himself. We do not become divine, but we do share in the Son’s relationship with his Father in the Spirit. And so, we are not detached from God looking at his love from a distance and trying hard to apply it with meaning to our own daily lives. We always look at God from within the communion of love that we are brought into through union with Jesus by the Spirit.
Within this communion of love, we discern that God does not exist for himself alone. We know that he will not be without us. All things were created for Christ and for us in him. And, through Christ, God has given himself to us so that we may be one with him sharing in his circle of love. Of course, we always remain merely human. We don’t become divine. And yet, God wants to be with us and for us to be with him in the Oneness of his own Triune circle of love. Abiding in Jesus, we know that nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from God’s love anymore than anything can separate the Father and Son from one another.
God is Love. He is an eternal movement of Love – Father, Son and Spirit ceaselessly loving one another. Not loving one another in a passive way of eternal stillness, but loving one another freely in active self-giving to one another. For God the Father to be Father is to be Father of the Son in joyful, self-giving love towards his Son in the Spirit. For God the Son to be Son is to be the Father’s Son in active self-giving love towards his Father in the Spirit. In the Spirit, Father and Son continually give themselves to one another and receive from one another in their dynamic communal life.
This eternal movement of love overflows in loving action towards us. For this God does not wish to live within himself and for himself alone. The One Lord who is essentially personal, dynamic and relational is God for others with whom he seeks and creates fellowship. In the freedom of his love, he wants to bring us into his joyful circle of love in a new world of love.
This free-flowing of sheer love for others reveals something of the inmost nature of God as Being for others. Father, Son and Spirit are always for one another in free-flowing dynamic loving within himself. And God is always for others outside his own inner life. The Triune God has eternally determined himself to be God with us and for us as one of us in Jesus and by the Spirit. And he has also eternally determined us to be with him in Jesus and Spirit.