Rooted and Grounded in Love
Friday, December 1, 2017
Brian McLaren, a longtime friend and speaker at many CAC conferences, has been a leading presence in the Emerging Church movement. Today I share a favorite passage from his recent book, The Great Spiritual Migration:
The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. —Galatians 5:6
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. . . . No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and [God’s] love is perfected in us. —1 John 4:7-8, 12
In light of Scriptures like these, you might think that the primacy of love would be a settled matter in Christian faith. But here we are two thousand years into this religion, and for many beliefs still rule, and love too often waits out in the hallway, hoping to be invited in and taken more seriously. (Even Pope Francis seems to be facing some resistance in this regard among his bishops, who fear that his emphasis on mercy and love violates the tradition.) True, we may have decentered old behavior-correctness codes, but in essence, many of us have merely exchanged them for new belief-correctness codes. We couldn’t handle the call to faith expressing itself in love, so we reverted to beliefs expressing themselves in exclusion instead.
Could it be that now is the time, at long last, for Christians to migrate to the vision shared by its original founder and his original followers? . . . If Christian faith can be redefined in this way, if our prime contribution to humanity can be shifted from teaching correct beliefs to practicing the way of love as Jesus taught, then our whole understanding and experience of the church could be transformed . . . [into] a school of love.
What I believe can and should happen is that tens of thousands of congregations will become what I call “schools” or “studios” of love. . . . What I care about is whether they are teaching people to live a life of love, from the heart, for God, for all people (no exceptions), and for all creation. . . .
If our churches make this migration, if they make the way of love their highest aim, they will experience what Paul prayed for in his Epistle to the Ephesians: their members will be “strengthened in [their] inner being with power through [God’s] Spirit, [so] that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith, as [they] are being rooted and grounded in love” (3:16-17). They will employ every text, prayer, song, poem, work of visual and dramatic art, ritual, rite of passage, and other spiritual resource to help people comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).
Gateway to Silence:
Rooted and growing in Love
Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent: 2016), 47-48, 54-55.