excerpt from Bibical Sexuality & the 21st Century
by Rev. Jayson Graves, M.MFT
We talk about love so often but we talk about it as if is a noun all the time, as just a feeling. “I love you.” What does that really mean when we say, I love you? It means I like you, usually. You’re trying to express that I am favorable towards you. When you change it just slightly say, I am willing to love you, it takes on a whole different meaning. “I’m willing to love you” really needs to be understood as a verb. It’s about what we do. What was our saying again? “More important then what we know and say and how we think and what we do. It’s how we love-its action. I love what President Theodore Roosevelt said as a mere 14-year old boy in his journal as an admonishment to himself: “Do something with your life…get action.”
At the end of the day, we’re a symbol and even an icon of that love and of that mystery. What’s an icon? An icon usually talked about as art, commonly as a religious painting: maybe Jesus in a lot of Catholic circles or Catholic buildings. Jesus with some sort of sad look on his face, circles above his head… Those are commonly known as icons. An icon is really anything that points to another thing. As the body of Christ here on earth, we serve as an icon of the eventual heavenly Bride of Christ. So we’re eventually, all of us, going be marrying Jesus. This gives me chills. That’s exciting! It’s hard to think about especially being a guy but there is a mystery to it: how is that going to happen, right? It’s maybe impossible to totally understand in the here and now, fully. We will comprehend it one day but for now, we’re icons here on earth, and we’re pointing to that eternal marriage and ultimate love in the hereafter.
We’re also pointing to that mystery. Ephesians 3:9 says, “To make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery for which ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” There’s a mystery, but for ages it hasn’t really been known in fullness for whatever reasons God has. Maybe He knew that it would be just too heavy for us and we couldn’t understand the fullness of it. I believe that here on earth, through things like Theology of the Body, we’re starting to get it. We have the opportunity to understand if we desire to at least. We’re still very messy about it. We try to make it about other things. We try to make it about political things or policy things. This is a very special mystery that we don’t fully understand. Again, we may not ever understand this side of eternity and we have to accept that on some level. We’re limited human beings, and if we believe in God then there’s only so much we can get because we’re finite. He is infinite.
Yet scripture calls us to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery. How do we do this if we can’t fully comprehend? Well, we can always live it out in faith. In other words, I don’t have to know everything perfectly or fully to act on something in faith according the level and amount of knowledge I have. I can act in faith right where I am. I don’t have to wait until I’m perfected to follow God and do what He asks…I can do what I know today. I can act, knowing that I’m imperfect but that God will cover the imperfections with His Love because He says “My grace is sufficient for you.” And for those of you who would say “Well, that gives people license to do whatever they want,” I would invite you to look at your own isolationism and lack of accountability and relationship in your own life, focus on that and start there!
What’s beautiful about this to me is that God is not only a relational God, but we’re created in his image. It’s not just a characteristic of God that he’s relational and that He shares that with us, but God IS a relationship. Have you ever thought about that? God IS a relationship. God’s the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and they’re in this eternal communion with each other; in this everlasting, intimate relationship with each other and all of the love in the world is a byproduct that relationship. In this divine mystery is where this eternal love of the Trinity is not only modeled for us to see; that God the Father and God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in this ‘Trinitarian love fest’ of sorts, but it leaks out or spills over onto us, onto mankind. It is given to us by the Spirit as the ultimate byproduct of that love, which is, salvation for all mankind. And that love byproduct is the thing that draws us to Him relationally through His Body (the people of God on earth) in a saving way.