Because God’s Love is Bigger
What that means in practice:
- Dare to Hope – there is plenty in scripture and tradition to suggest that some will never taste and see that the Lord is good, but we must dare to hope that all might be saved; salvation isn’t for ‘my’ sake but for the building of God’s kingdom. No matter what may eventually happen, we must live in the hope and expectation that the agent of all creation is able to restore all creation as well.
- Tearing down walls, not building them differently – both giver and receiver are at risk of being equally challenged and changed in Christian action, as in the story of Peter and Cornelius. For instance, charity can easily become a way to give money so that I can feel good without having to actually change anything meaningful about my life and interactions. To embody God’s love, for me to interact with “the poor” is to admit that my life is not ‘better’ but that the ‘better’ things I do have need to be shared just like the ‘better’ things that the poor have need to be shared. Action is not I have and they need, but in the mutual exchange of the good gifts of God, we get a glimpse into the active peace God makes possible.
- There are only people – There are no issues, no strategies, no theories, no ideologies. These categories are just ways we are forced to put words to the world because of our limited power to think and communicate. Words have ambiguous potential to help, but if the categories we use become an end in themselves, we have missed the point. The kind of problems we try to name and solve with such categories only represent truth if we assume we can have all the facts of the case and must then choose how to act. In people, there is always more to the story than any finite set of facts could show – to think in categories is to presume control. God asks instead that we give up control and love people – in all their complexity and depth. Treating categories of life as more truthful than life itself renders impossible the coherence of a created self. Any roles we play don’t remove from us the responsibility to be God’s children in all things.
- Not either/or but other than – The either/or choices we are given in life are almost always insufficient to capture the heart of God. We do not have an objective story and set of facts from which we are supposed to choose the right answer; instead we are invited to see the world in the light of God’s story that changes everything. One concrete example is to say that God is not pro choice or pro life. God desires that we become the kind of people so ready and willing to welcome new life into the world that we can no longer imagine a world in which abortion even makes sense. To create that world is to challenge many of the basic assumptions of our time and become a radically united community that lives as much for each other as for ourselves. It is this broken body that is redeemed, transformed, and made new. God does not go around history, but through the cross. Therefore, we have to be open to the radical ways that we are called to build the kingdom even now.
- God doesn’t want your money, God wants your whole life – “Give unto God what is God’s, give unto Caesar what it Caesar’s.” Some might take this as the separation of church and money, but the nature of Jesus and the calling he offers requires us to see a much more challenging reality. All that is belongs to God. We are stewards of the gifts and we are called to be a blessing to the whole world. St. Basil went as far as saying that we are stealing from the poor if we are not sharing our abundance. Charity is not an act of generosity, it is a means to finally participate in the justice of God that does not perpetuate the way things have always been, but sets all things right.