By Rev. Phil Milam
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us -I John 4:17 (MSG)
Willian Slone Coffin once wrote, “What we need to realize is that to love effectively, we must act collectively.” (Credo 23) The author of the First Letter of John provides a foundation for Coffin’s assertion. You see, collective action, by its very nature, requires a certain amount of courage. When I go-it-alone, I am in control, but it’s a little scary to surrender absolute control to the collective and journey together.
Here’s an example of what I mean. There are two schools of thought when a pastor accepts a call to a new congregation. The first is to say, “make all the changes you can on day one because the honeymoon period is brief.” It’s been my observation that this line of thinking has led to many short pastorates. The second school of thought, however, takes the opposite approach. It says, “change as little as possible in the first year, instead, use that time to build trust and relationships.” This second approach, relationship building, has enjoyed a far greater success rate than coming in like a whirlwind. But why? Why the disparity?
Well, perhaps the answer to that question goes back to Coffin’s statement, “…to love effectively, we must act collectively.” When we surrender a portion of our control in any relationship whether it’s a personal relationship, or in the work environment, even in church; in any successful relationship there must be some give-and-take; some level of shared responsibility. And the same is true when it come to our relationship with God.
Richard Roar says, “Instead of an Omnipotent Monarch, let’s try what God as Trinity demonstrates as the actual and wondrous shape of the Divine reality, which then replicates itself in us and in “all the array” of creation. Instead of watching life happen from afar and judging it… How about God being inherent in life itself?” (The Divine Dance 36) This understanding of God as relational leads us to conclude that God is known devotionally and not dogmatically, that all life is sacred, or, again in the words of Rohr, that “everything is holy, for those who have learned to see.” (37) My friends, as we continue to progress and grow and deepen our relationship with God, each other, and those beyond our circle, may we too see that everything is finally sacred.