One of the recent transitions at Crossroads Friends Church was from “Loving God, Loving Others, and Serving the World,” to “Gospel, Community, Mission.”
Recently, a wonderful college student asked me why we made the change, and my response was simply, “Loving God is something we do for God. Ultimately, our action is at the center of this statement. But Gospel means so much more. Gospel means that before we were capable of loving God, he loved us and rescued us through the cross and resurrection.
This week, I’ve been reading D.A. Carson’s Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus and was reminded again why the transition was important.
“Lazarus’s sisters refer to their brother as “the one you love” (John 11:3), an expression that hints at all kinds of human relationships that Jesus had of which we know rather little. I do think, though, that it is one of the common features of those who become intimate with Jesus that they think of themselves not as those who love him particularly well but those who are particularly well loved by him. Thus, John, the writer of this Gospel, refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:7,20: cf. 20:2). Or Paul, referring to Jesus in an atonement passage, adds the clause “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19a). Those who draw really close to Jesus think of themselves, first and foremost, as those loved by him rather than as those who profess their love for him.” (italics mine)