Love transforms us.
We know this, and yet when we discover it in new ways – or see it illustrated, it strikes a chord within us. This is because we were created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27), and God literally is Love (1 John 4:7-8). We respond to Love differently than we do to power or fear. It humbly invites participation, relationship, and response. This is a foundation for what we hope to be involved in as we are sent to Hungary. Not that we would “bring the Love of God” with us, but that we would come alongside others in revealing the Love of God already active there.
I’ve recently re-read the book “White Fang”, and have a renewed appreciation for the book in ways the author may not have intended. (Spoiler alert) The book features a wolf who experiences three different “Masters” throughout his life who he refers to as “gods”, because of their position over him. I believe these three gods represent three primary ways people experience/respond to God.
- Gray Beaver – god of power. White Fang’s first experience with humanity. He recognizes the authority & abilities of this being and submits. For us, simply the concept of there being a “god” who has created all things, means there is a being who is ultimately responsible for those things. We submit to this god because we have no choice.
- Beauty Smith – god of fear. Obtains possession of White Fang, and enforces his will by striking/abusing White Fang to break his spirit. Here, there is a “god” who wants their way, and if you’re not part of that way – look out. This god is on the move to bring death and destruction to anyone who disagrees, so get in line or get left behind. We submit to this god because we’re afraid of what would happen if we didn’t.
- Weedon Scott – god of love. Doesn’t simply “take possession” of White Fang, but goes to great lengths to “redeem” him from how his past has shaped him. Sets him free, and offers love without forcing a particular response. Here, we see God revealed as invitational, and loving in ways that offer a New Identity. We submit to this God gladly out of loving response to the loving submission already poured out on our behalf.
I believe this reminds us of an important message – not only as we prepare to go to a land shaped by decades in communism-influenced experiences of faith – but for the global church as well.
There is a world who looks at the church, assuming we serve the gods of power and fear. We affirm this when we live from a desire to appear successful or in control. When we manipulate situations to our advantage, promote/protect only our interests, and speak demandingly in ways that seem desperate to be heard/win.
But there is a Church who serves a God of Love. We affirm, reveal, and proclaim this when we listen. When we pause for the sake of others. When we speak against oppression & hate, and yet show Love to those who are against us. When we open our doors & hearts to the others in our midst, vulnerable to their presence. When we set captives free, demanding nothing in return. When we let go of our plans, to see how our resources, time and space can be shaped to reveal the Love of Jesus for others – empowered by the Holy Spirit.
This is Love that has already transformed the world. This is Love that will transform lives…
..and it all begins, by allowing the Love of God to redeem us from the brokenness we’ve known previously. Know that you are beloved today.