Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Everlasting Love Unfeigned: My Understanding of Christianity

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)

There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong…. for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned. (James Nayler)

Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation; Enter every trembling heart. (Charles Wesley)

  1. God is spirit and the source of all things. The essence of God is love, everlasting love unfeigned, pure unbounded love.
  2. Humans were created in the image of God. This means that they were created in communion with God, sharing God’s capacity for pure unbounded love.
  3. In what is known as the ‘Fall’ humans became deluded, imagining themselves to be independent and autonomous when in truth all things proceed from God and are interconnected and interdependent. Breaking their unity with God, humanity lost the image of God within them (the capacity for pure unbounded love).  
  4. The fallen state, in which humans find themselves out of harmony with God, each other and the rest of creation, is characterised by division, violence, hatred, injustice and greed. This is the very opposite of pure unbounded love.
  5. In his life and ministry Jesus represented pure unbounded love in human form. Through him the image of God was reintroduced into the human world.
  6. The pure unbounded love of Jesus (his obedience to God) brought him into conflict with a world dominated by division, violence, hatred, injustice and greed. His unwillingness to compromise with this evil led directly to his death on the cross.
  7. God raised Jesus from the dead as a sign of his victory over darkness. The pure unbounded love of Christ was victorious over the evil and hatred in the world (Christus victor).
  8. The way of Christ (pure unbounded love) became available to all when the Spirit was poured out on all flesh at Pentecost. This Spirit has the power to establish the image of God within people.
  9. The Spirit is available to everyone but it is not imposed on anyone. People have a choice; they can receive the Spirit and allow it to transform them and establish the image of God within them or they can ignore and reject it.
  10. Christ is returning and the Kingdom of God is coming bit-by-bit and piece-by-piece as the image of God is established in each person and the world is increasingly ruled by pure unbounded love.
  11. The Church and individual Christians are called to make this transformation visible in the world by living a life of pure unbounded love. Such a witness brings them into conflict with the darkness in the world and may result in suffering and persecution as it did for Jesus. This is what it means to ‘take up the cross’.
  12. Being the essence of pure unbounded love, God’s care for the Church and for individual Christians is no greater than God’s care for everyone and every thing else. The church has simply been called to a particular task in the divine plan for the restoration of all things
  13. Since the Spirit has been poured out on all flesh and is available to everyone, it is visible in all religious traditions and human cultures where unbounded love can be seen to flourish.