Study Guide: The Point of It All

Sunday May 15, 2022 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.

Reflection Questions: