Posted by: robertartemenko | April 26, 2010

The Love of HugeGOD

1 Corinthians 13:13  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Whether or not you call yourself a Christian, you have likely heard the verse above at some church ceremony. I have heard it used both at weddings and funerals. That … is utility!

Paul’s famous love chapter in Corinthians gets a lot of attention. I have focused on the verse above in particular, on the primacy of love over faith and hope. I guess it rings true most of all because the Bible says “God is Love” (1 John 4, verses 8 and 16). No where does it say that “God is faith” or “God is hope,” though we have faith IN Him and hope FOR Him. Yes, faith, hope and love are big deals, but scripture certainly honors love in a unique way. When thinking of these three personally, “love” as an emotion or conviction carries with it more of my heart and mind than faith and hope, important as they are. In courting my wife, seeing my children born, being overcome by the beauty of creation in Glacier or Yellowstone Park, while faith and hope certainly rattle around in my brain, it is “love” that is the prime mover. It dominates, causing the sigh and the high, exciting the passion, encouraging the actions flowing from the heart.

The writings of (Saint) Augustine have captured my interest recently and I am reading a foundational work of his, The Trinity. In it he intellectually wrestles with how to best know and understand God. (Psalm 105:4 ” Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.”) As our life in God is totally a function of who He is, this is a critical first step for all seekers. As intellectual extraordinaire, Augustine took up pick axe and shovel for over twenty years, 400 – 420 AD. An insight directing his digging into this mystery is that God made-man-in-his-image. (Genesis 9:6b ” for in the image of God has God made man.”) Augustine strains all his logic, analytical power and scriptural scholarship to see what is it in man that could possibly map to the triune God, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, one essence yet three personalities.

His findings are carefully laid out over 15 “books,” each chapter length entries, where he carefully develops his God-view. Not summarizing, but highlighting one theme within his presentation, he suggests “We all certainly want to be happy.” (Referencing also a dialogue in Cicero’s Hortensius) He goes on to assert that ultimate happiness is not to be found in the temporal, for if eternity is available through saving faith in Jesus, who would not opt for immortality. All temporal pursuits are bound by mortality. The immortal “context” tied to redemption in Christ is life “forever.” Life immortal beats any happy gig experienced in our mortality.
 
The great thing about reading Augustine is the way he develops, defines, refines and reduces his own thinking. He’ll then get to a point where he takes some hitherto simple diamond and discovers under-appreciated facets, revealing subtleties and new insights. He does this with the love verse that heads this entry. Augustine acknowledges the defined interrelationship between faith and hope in scripture. Hebrews 11:1 states ” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Regarding the immortality that is an ingredient of  the “happy life” mentioned above, our faith is a decision we have taken in hope of realizing the promises of God. Augustine says “faith in eternal things is also necessary for gaining these eternal things.” (The Trinity, Book XIV, 1.). The “eternal”  hope to be realized by our faith is meeting God face to face, being in His presence forever. While on earth, we cannot see God. The sin that has corrupted our flesh is a veil which our weak spiritual eyes cannot penetrate. Passing on out of our earthly bodies as believing Christians into our redeemed heavenly bodies opens new strengthened eyes that see the triune HugeGOD, … Father, Son, and Spirit.   Revelation 21:3b-4  talks about this encounter that will never end. ” Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
 
What’s insight does Augustine highlight?   Augustine confirms why “the greatest of these is love.”
 
 Love is greatest … because once we are dwelling with the HugeGOD, once the mystery of the Gospel hoped for on earth is replaced by our reborn bodies dwelling in God’s presence face to face, our faith and hope pass away. That for which our faith has been most earnest, that for which we have been most hopeful, is realized, and realized in ways “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine …” (Ephesians 3:20a) .
 
Game over! Yankees win!! Thuuuuuuuuuuuh, Yankees Win !!!  (Sorry, but you understand if you listen to the local WCBS baseball-casts)
 
Augustine says “It (faith) will not always exist, because it will certainly no longer exist when the sojourn abroad comes to an end in which we are living away from the Lord so that we have to walk by faith, and when by the sight by which we shall see face to face takes its place…Then there will no longer be any faith by which things that are not seen are believed, but sight by which things are believed are seen.” (Augustine, The Trinity, Book XIV, 4.)
 
Is my God … Is your God … Huge enough in our minds right-now to appreciate that hope and faith, in their current “craving” form, will be extinguished upon seeing God face to face?
 
We have hoped for and had faith in so many things in our lives … they dominate our thinking. We have white knuckled grips on dreams for jobs, salaries, bonuses, pensions, contracts, promotions, relationships, houses, renovations, cars, grades, scores, SAT results, acceptances, references, recognition, evaluations, promotions, WBC count, PSA results, MRI results, healing, flat abs, BMI results, conflict resolution, crab grass, weather, reception hall availability, tee times, Rogaine effectiveness, dress size, etc. Long lists of things, some ridiculously light, some sincerely heavy in our hearts with life and death seriousness.
 
Does the future dwelling-with our HugeGOD so dominate our “want-tos” today, that we see ALL our faith(s) and hope(s) being totally fulfilled when we are with Him tomorrow?
 
No, so sorry to say, I do not. But I really want to. I see that it is absolutely right to morph my worldview about this. I am inspired by Augustine and other HugeGOD lovers to be transformed into the kind of person who would shed this world’s charms and desires for what has true value and joy. C.S. Lewis addressed our level of distraction with temporal things when he said: ” If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
 
The sorry, saggy state of my deflated faith-hope balloon needs serious re-inflation. All the good air seems squeezed out, displaced by the foul-smelling gas of temporal distractions. The action required is a high pressure injection of HugeGOD divine, eternal hope. To change our worldview, the first order of business is to lock onto true hope, and deal seriously with the reality and the promises of scripture (1 Peter 1:3-4 ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”)
 
Hanging our hope on the things of this world has all the certainty of a bent, flimsy, rusty nail.
 
Securing our hope to our HugeGOD’s promises, delivers on what we truly need and want, so much so that hope as an urgent longing in our soul withers away. Faith also, which activated our hopes, fades along with it. All that remains is the greatest of these, love, which and Who is HugeGOD, that was, is and will be, unchanging and eternal, and stands tallest among the three… faith, hope and love.
 
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Responses

  1. Time for another one bro. Get those verbal juices flowing and beckon God to send what’s on His mind through you.


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