Learning to Love

baby at 20 weeks ultrasoundBecoming a parent releases a whole load of emotions in you. First, of course, there is the wonder of the new life that you or your partner has produced. After that, there is the swell of love as you gaze at the tiny fingers, toes, nose, mouth. Who does she look like? What character traits will she have?

But then it hits you that this little person is your responsibility for the rest of your life. This is where the real love begins – with the putting down of certain habits and activities in order to care for the new child. We begin life essentially self-centred, and make a series of adjustments as first we get married and then a whole load more when we become a parent. We need to learn to exist for someone other than ourselves. It’s a day-by-day process as we put down selfish desires and pick up those which benefit the family.

I’ve been reading Mike Reeves’ book, The Good God, which makes an excellent a readable case for God being Trinity. Here’s a summary.

We talk about God being loving; love being one of his major characteristics. Mike Reeves claims that this quality is inseparable from him being triune. A single-person god cannot be loving in the same way a 3-in-1 God can be.

Lets ask the question, why is there something rather than nothing? Why did god decide  to create. A single-person god would have been hanging around in eternity on his own, for ever. In this time, he would have had no-one to love. Therefore, love could not be at the centre of his character. The impulse of this God to create could only come from some self-service principle. (There are some ancient myths that say have a single-person God creating the universe as his plaything, and humans as his slaves.) If this God can be loving, he would need to learn how, and that would most probably be a very unsatisfactory love indeed.

On the other hand, a God who is in his nature, Father and Son and Spirit had the object (Father), subject (Son) and means (Spirit) of love as His core. Here, creation is simply an overflowing of the Fathers love for the Son. We are created so he could love and we could share in His love. He also doesn’t need to learn love, as we do, as he has been loving all along.

If God is not a Father, if he has no Son and will have no children, then he must be lonely, distant, unapproachable; if he is not triune and so not essentially loving.

Why is this important? CS Lewis, GK Beale, Tom Wright and many others have written that we become like the one we worship, and will see the world like the one we worship. For example, those who worship money start to define themselves and others in terms of money – as partner, debtor, creditor etc. Those who worship fame value others’ importance on whether they are famous or not.

And so it is, Reeves suggests, with our doctrine of God. As we seek to grow towards him and grow like him, we become like him. But if our view of God is of a single and solitary god, we will end up trying to be single and solitary, never relying on others or loving others. At it’s worst, we might start seeing others as what we can get out of them.

But the Christian God, the Trinitarian God is different. He has two commands that are more important than any others. What are they? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love you’re neighbour as yourself”. Commands to share the love that the Father has for the world, with the world. Similarly, the command to “be Holy as I am Holy” is not to separate ourselves off from the world in some puritanical fashion, but to engage with it by not being mean to the poor, not lying, not stealing, not undermining relationships, and so on. These cease to be arbitrary rules and become guidelines on how to stay in relationship with God and with others. The loving God is a God of relationship because relationship is at his heart.

He doesn’t need to learn to love, but we do, and we do that by worshipping the Triune God, whose character is the basis for our existence.

 

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