Today’s Bible reading
“12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
More thoughts for meditation
Our cell multiplication movement has nurtured many wise ones among us, and one of them once talked about leading a cell as being about “holding space.” This week we’re going to let that language guide us as we imagine holding space as an invitation to know God, ourselves, and our community more deeply. We start with God as described in I John. In our passage above, John is describing how we might know God, and says that when we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made “complete” or “perfected” in us. Why? Because God is love (I John 4:8 and I John 4:16). In The New Testament in Its World, NT Wright and Michael Bird talk about this like so:
“If God revealed himself in the world by turning his love into flesh and blood, we should realize that, when we do the same, we are completing God’s love.”
“John stresses again the priority of divine love: ‘We love because God first loves us.’ God‘s love reflects in our own love back towards God and then rebounds to others since ‘anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister’.”
When we love, we tap into the very Spirit of God as we participate in God’s loving self. And while we may not have “seen” God, the love that we have seen in the world, especially as the Spirit moves in and through us, points us to Jesus, who was sent by the Father to save us from all that is not-love. And so by looking not at God, but rather at the love we’re a part of, we wind up seeing God anyway. This is a mystery. There is no science that explains this. We can nevertheless know it to be true, for when we look at love, we see God, for love again is what God is. And here is where the language of “holding space” serves us well. Though God is “one,” God is love, and love does not exist in a vacuum. It is a function of relationship. Looking at love, we see Father, Son, and Spirit in the space they hold for the interplay of their love.This is the “divine dance” at work. Thanks be to God, this love overflows to all of creation and is made complete as we love one another and return God’s love back to God.
Suggestions for action
How might you hold space to experience God’s love today? I don’t know if you’re at all like me, but to be brutally honest I often feel empty inside, and it’s tempting to think of this emptiness as an absence, perhaps even the absence of God. The late ragamuffin Brennan Manning takes a different view, though. He equates such a feeling not as an absence, but as a presence- the presence of, of all things, holiness. He says that “holiness is not a personal achievement. It’s an emptiness you discover in yourself.” Where one might be tempted to resent such a feeling of emptiness inside, Manning advises that “Instead of resenting it, you accept it and it becomes the free space where the Lord can create anew.” As God holds space in God’s self for love to flow among Father, Son, and Spirit, and holds space in all of creation for love to flow to us and among us and back to God, try to take time today to notice the space God might be holding within you. Tend it gently, like a bruised reed or smoldering wick that Jesus will not break or put out. Let God fan the flame of her love within you, and see what new thing the Lord might be birthing there.