Adding to God’s Joy

Posted by Charlie Finn at

Here are some thoughts on God that will knock your socks off, that is if you were taught, as I was, that, being perfect in some kind of transcendental realm, God is beyond change. Changing, it was assumed, would imply imperfection, and therefore He (we were never taught it could just as well be She) could never change.

But then how could He really love? We were likely also taught that God is a God of love, that He can even be defined as love (“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him”). Did not Jesus sum up what we are to do with our lives with the call to love God, neighbor and self to the fullest?

How can one love and not change, in the giving as well as in the receiving? Is that not love’s power and beauty? Do we not come alive because of love, grow stronger because of love? Is not love what propels us towards meaning and joy? If we know this for a fact from the effect love has on us, how it literally transforms our lives, how could it not be transformative in God’s life as well?

Let it astoundingly sink in that just as we rejoice to receive love, through our own loving we give joy, and how can that not mean we give joy to everyone we love, God included?

At the beginning of the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke are three of Jesus’ parables, each ending in joy. First it was the shepherd’s joy when he found his lost sheep, then the woman’s joy when she found her lost coin, finally the father’s joy when he found his lost son. Is not the loud and clear message that when we turn, or return, to God in love we give Him joy?

As a Catholic boy I had a strong devotion to the hearts both of Jesus and Mary. What does heart mean but fullness of feeling? In my advancing age I keep coming back to what I term “the great heart theme,” the recognition that heart is at the heart of it, that just as our own hearts are full of feeling, so too is God’s! Slow down here and truly ponder the words: God is full of feeling. Is it conceivable that a God who is defined as love (better yet loving) can be locked in a static, changeless perfection unmoved by love?

Here is a passage from a process theologian, emphasizing process instead of substance (reality as verb instead of reality as noun), that I read years ago, along with my eureka response.

God on the Move
"But if God is present in the world and everything is present in God, then it is eminently reasonable to suppose that God is enriched by the changing Creation and is also changed by love… The one sheep that was lost and found and God rejoices over it.”

Charles Birch, “The Enrichment of God,” Creation Spirituality November-December 1991

img on flickr by nic

Eureka! I shout as I read it.

Charles Birch captures beautifully an essential of my belief about God. God fixed somewhere in perfection behind the ephemeral flux of existence misses the yearning and the tenderness, the drama and the daring, of a God on the move enriched by the changing Creation, changed (my God!) by love.

Wake up tomorrow with the giddy realization that, as you succeed in rising to new opportunities presented for loving, you’ll be making God’s day! If that doesn’t knock your socks off, or give you all the reason you need to put your socks on, nothing will.


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