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The Point of It All

• Greg Boyd

God calls us to replicate the love of the cross instead of passing judgment upon others. We do this as we live into the reality of our inclusion in God’s love and our identity in Christ, as part of the Triune, cruciform love that God is.

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To know why it is so important to not judge others, we must understand the call to love others and how judgment is the antithesis of love. What makes this especially important is that Christians generally don’t see much wrong with judging others.

In John 17, Jesus prays to the Father that our love for one another will reflect the loving unity of the Trinity. In addition, through our loving unity, the world will come to believe that Jesus is for real. This is the way that God’s glory is put on display in creation.

Some associate the glory of God with power, God’s “omnipotence.” In this view, God’s glory is only for him. If anyone else is glorified, it is viewed as competition with divine glory. But this is the not the way that we are to understand the glory of God as revealed in Christ. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ crucifixion is depicted as the point when Jesus most glorifies the Father because Jesus most unambiguously puts the character or “name” of the Father on display while hanging on the cross. The “glory of God” is not about power. It’s about God’s other-oriented self-sacrificial character. God’s “glory” is simply the radiance of cruciform love.

The Father gives this “glory” to Jesus, and Jesus gives this “glory” to us. The call to reflect God’s other-oriented, self-sacrificial character is a call to make the Father’s “ame” known. Jesus displays the Father’s name by sacrificing everything for us, and we, in turn, display the Father’s name as we sacrifice for others. To the degree that we love each other like this, our loving unity will reflect the loving unity of the triune God.

Not only are we challenged to mirror God’s cruciform love, we are called to participate in it. In the church tradition, the three persons of the Trinity are said to dwell in each other, which is described as “perichoresis.” The Father, Son and Spirit give themselves fully to each other and open themselves fully to each other to the point that they dwell in each other.

Jesus applies this same indwelling language to us. The way we love should not only reflect the perichoretic nature of the triune God, but is also actually participating in God’s perichoretic love. When we believe, we are placed “in Christ,” which denotes a real, ontological, metaphysical change in our status. We are placed “in Christ,” and in Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In Christ we were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. Our perichoretic dwelling in Christ and Christ’s perichoretic dwelling in us reflects and participates in perichoretic indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity.

According to 2 Peter 2:4, God has given us his precious and very great promises, which empower us to escape the corruption of the world and become participants in the divine nature. We don’t become God, but we do participate in God’s triune love, and this is the point of everything: God’s loving perichoretic nature refracted throughout the cosmos so that the whole creation might participate in God’s glory. God’s love is directed to us, dwelling in us, and flowing through us—back to God, to ourselves, to other humans, to earth and to the animal kingdom. This is what God has been working toward from the start, and it is the goal of all creation.

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Topics: Judgment, Love, Power

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination


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Focus Scripture:

  • John 17: 20-23, 26

    I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

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9 thoughts on “The Point of It All

  1. Lorieanne says:

    God gave us a bootie to boogie with!

  2. Cercatore says:

    ‘The Trinity as Community’ or ‘Social Trinitarianism’ is something that is often overlooked or marginalized in Reformed, Independent Evangelical and Catholic Circles for various sublime reasons. Relational Ontology is a challenge to idea that we all stand alone as independent distinct entities, each only accountable to ourselves in corporal and metaphysical realms. But idea that a person’s identity is in one sense, comprised of and codependent on, the relationship that we have with one another or that it in fact, precedes the person themselves, is a brilliant spiritual epiphany of the dynamic of Divine Love. How we negotiate and navigate the space between us, can at times, determine our own ontological parameters. Greg mentioned the ‘Imagio Dei’ and how important it is for us to actively seek that in others. The dance of the Perichoresis does not only exist for us and or our all too human notions of hierarchy, but for every man, woman and child ever born or who will ever be. The very ontological constitution of the Trinity itself is an intentional blueprint for human loving relationships – it is what we were designed to be and to do, in that there is freedom, non-coercion and redemption.

  3. Matthew says:

    Cruciform love … all for it. Realizing the other that is not like me nor shares my opinions is of infinite value to our shared Lord … got it.

    But I am so sorry to say that I must judge. I can no longer sit back and not judge the mostly religious fundamentalist evangelicals and their support for guns in America. I must draw the line and advocate against them. They decry abortion yet support the death penalty. They scream “pro-life” but do nothing to impede the unnecessary death and carnage from lax gun laws. They may be my brothers and sisters in Christ, but they are woefully misguided. I never want to hear “Jesus” and “gun rights” mentioned together in the same sentence again, much less at a political rally!!!

    I have had it. Lord have mercy. May the power of God stop these people from gaining any more power than they already have in the U.S.

    1. Cercatore says:

      Matthew.

      I don’t know if you are the same ‘Matthew’ from Brian Zahn’s Blog, but I completely hear what you are saying. I am a teacher and have been working with kids (K-12, AP & IB) basically every day for over 25 years in the classroom and there is nothing more quintessentially important than their safety and character development. Although not a gun owner myself, I have desperately tried to have a more ‘Centrist’ & ‘Moderate’ view on such matters. One of the habitual arguments/philosophical positions that I have heard coming from those on the ‘Far Right’ is that this is essentially a [mental health issue] not a “gun access issue” and that “Haters are gonn’a Hate” and “Killers are gonn’a kill”. Well, of course that’s somewhat true and I saw it for myself living abroad over in the UK & Europe for nearly 20 years where those who didn’t have access to ‘Guns’, simply drove vans and or cars into groups of innocents to perpetrate their hate and carnage. But what is almost never uttered in the same breath by those who claim that it is exclusively a “mental health issue” is that simultaneously, it is also [an absurdly available access to firearms issue] for those who are mentally ill and or psychotically dupped and disturbed through the ‘dark web’ in the first place and like an alcoholic who has access to copious amounts of booze and fast car, they become a much more prevalent and pervasive killing machine perpetrating and spreading their dark & hateful Satanic vision upon God’s Creation when there are no or very little prohibitions stopping them from obtaining these weapons in the first place. Like “designated drivers”, ‘mandatory background checks and cooling off periods’ must be implemented nationally if we want the carnage to stop or at least be abated somewhat. On the Grand Scale of all things definitely ‘Evil’ in this world, what’s just happened in Texas, really isn’t that different from a ‘Spiritual Warfare’ context, than the instantaneous incineration of thousands of innocent Japanese children while playing on the playground when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the thousands of Children murdered in Iraq or the Ukraine, Vietnam, etc.. by random bombings. There are no easy answers but something must be changed and changed now.

      1. Matthew says:

        Hello Cercatore. Looks like we frequent some of the same spaces! Yes … I am Matthew from Brian´s blog. I hear what you are saying, and I agree with some things you mention, but in terms of mental health sickness specifically as someone who suffers from mental illness I know first hand what it is like to live in the U.S. with such a condition with little or no available support. Many evangelicals and their conservative brethren in D.C. are also to blame for this! I am so thankful I now live in Europe where I have received adequate care and am able to much more effectively manage my life. But I digress.

        For me, the larger point (in line with this sermon series) is one of judging. While I firmly believe the image of God resides in all humans, and while I know I am to love my brothers and sisters in Christ without reservation, I also firmly believe we must make sincere moral judgements as Christians, even against one another in the Body of Christ when such is necessary.

        I simply cannot sit back and allow this madness to go on any more when it is clear who the real people are to blame!

        1. Cercatore says:

          As a father of two Senior boys who just graduated from high school this week and are headed off to college, I firmly believe that part of the solution to this horrific reoccurrence is effective parenting and role modeling. This is a very tricky business and there are ten thousand voices out there telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. I have found at times though, that a tangential and oblique approach to advice and instruction, has been more effective than direct didactic and or confrontational guidance. With boys at least, you often can generate the polar-opposite reaction and personality traits when you insist on your own life’s agenda. Thinking about these last two shooting incidents, I can’t even imagine what kind of ‘fathering’ or ‘mentorship’ these young men had, if any at all? When one does not see or experience compassion from a reliably present elder, you more than likely don’t develop compassion and empathy yourself; plain and simple. So many fathers are checked out and abandon their kids to the Internet and take little interest in what they’re actually doing Online. Being actively involved in your child’s world, even if it’s spiritually ancillary is key to building a worldview in them that is proactively kindhearted and balanced. Stricter laws and regulations and universal background checks will absolutely help bring down the frequency of such insanely horrific events, but you’ve got to cut of this ‘Satanic Hydra’s Head’ at the source with passionately involved parenting which has has compassion and empathy at its central core first and foremost if we truly want things to change. Father Greg Boyle of ‘Homeboy Industries’ has put this into practice and as a result has made a tremendous spiritual impact on the lives of hundreds, even thousands of young troubled men!

          1. Matthew says:

            A fair and balanced approach Cercatore. Thanks as always.

    1. Matthew says:

      Thanks so much Cercatore. I would like to communicate with you in another way other than in comment sections. Would that be possible?

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