Posted by: Joel | December 29, 2008

The greatest of these is love

George Eldon Ladd, in his book The Gospel of the Kingdom makes some comments on ‘eternal life’ as a relational, experiential fellowship with God (as the characterizing feature). In an already/not yet framework he discusses Paul’s “now I know in part”. This relational, experiential fellowship with God also includes knowledge about God, for it would be very hard to know somebody if you didn’t know anything about them! But Paul, of all people, confesses that now he knows only in part, but when the Age to Come is fully manifest he will know in full, because he will see God face to face instead of through a mirror dimly (1st century mirrors were anything but crystal clear). Ladd goes on to remark that this is why Paul sees love as the greatest gift of the Spirit. It is because of our ‘in part’ knowledge (factual and relational) that we need the various gifts of the Holy Spirit in this already/not yet overlap of the ages. When the Age to Come is fully manifest, we will not need these gifts anymore. However, love will abide. Love will be the main characterization of the fully manifest life of the Age to Come. Love is the very (inter-trinitarian?) life of God.

I found this really inspiring to think about. God is love. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. It makes sense. Now let us more forward in repentance and deepening faith as we pray for the Father to work the old self out of, and the life of Jesus the Messiah into, our hearts via his Holy Spirit.

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