[This was originally a brochure written in 2004—Fr. Charles]
“God is love, and those who dwell in love dwell in God, and God dwells in them.”—1 John 4:16b
“Christ is the Logos of whom all people were partakers; and those who lived reasonably [i.e., by the Logos] are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists.”—Justin Martyr, First Apology, 46, ca. 150 CE
Christian faith is fundamentally good news. But some popular versions don’t sound like good news. They sound as if you’re bound for Hell unless you pray the right kind of prayer or believe the right kinds of things. But there are older and deeper strands of Christian faith that aren’t so narrow, where the news they offer is every bit as good as it sounds. Here’s a brief summary (with a respectful nod toward another well-known campus ministry):
- God loves us and all creation into being, so that everyone may share in God’s common life.
We’re here because God loves us and wants us to live in love with God, our friends, our enemies, and the entire world. God’s love is unconditional—there’s nothing you can do, nothing about who you are, that can make God stop loving you. And the common life God aims to share with us is a life that makes each of us unique and different even as it makes us “members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).
- The world is a mess, and so are we, because we choose to reject God’s love.
Because God made us for love, God also made us free to reject it. The reason we find it so hard to get along with ourselves and others is that we’ve been born into a world that’s been rejecting love for as far back as we can trace. So we have to be honest about that and stop playing games. We need to admit that we need God’s healing presence in our lives, and we need to keep realizing that God’s love for us doesn’t depend on how good we are.
- In Christ God loves us and everybody else even in our rejection.
God’s love is too stubborn to let our rejection get in the way, and as Christians we celebrate how God’s love keeps breaking into history to draw us back. We especially remember the story of God’s promises in calling Israel to be God’s people. Those promises were never revoked. We find all of those promises offered to the whole world in a startlingly new way in the life, death, and risen life of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s a story worth sharing with everybody. But it’s a promise, not a threat, and it doesn’t mean that everybody has to become a Christian to know God’s reconciliation. The Gospel of John presents Jesus Christ, not as the only way, but as the inescapable way (John 14:6), because Christ embodies “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (John 1:9). Christ is the expressiveness (the logos) of a God who is present everywhere, and no one comes to God except through God. Yes, God calls everyone to wake up and share actively in God’s common, reconciling life, and that will inevitably involve sharing in some way in the Church’s celebration of the communion of God’s Spirit in Jesus Christ. But all who “dwell in love” are already sharing in that life in some way, and they are now summoned mainly to be less haphazard about it. It would also be nice if everybody could agree on how to name, celebrate and promote that life, but that’s a goal, not a prerequisite. Christians may have as much to learn as to teach about dwelling in love from conversation with other traditions.
- We’re all invited to find our lives by letting them go into God’s common life with us.
We believe that in Jesus God let go of God’s very own life in the world, and that God’s Spirit is drawing each of us to live out the shape of that life in our own different ways, in a community that celebrates and promotes God’s unfailing generosity. It’s a messy and threatening prospect, but God promises to be with us and to keep drawing us into love no matter how often we mess up. So the question for all of us to wrestle with is: Are we going to let this happen in our lives? Are we ready to let God open us up to share our lives with the world God loves? Whether we’re ready for that or not, the good news is, and always will be, that God is always ready for us.