As I have been reading and writing on love for more than thirteen months now I am awestruck by so much that is transforming my own life.
Here is but one example. A Pauline text that has deeply moved me can be read in Galatians 5:1-6:
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love (NRSV).
The story of Abraham and Sarah is used here as a historical metaphor about two distinctly different ways to perceive our relationship with God, or what the Bible calls “two covenants.” The first covenant led to bondage (the covenant was not bad but this was its purpose) and the second covenant led to “liberty” (Gal. 4:21-26; cf. 5:1 above).
We very often relate to God with an emphasis upon ourselves, our works and our human efforts. We imagine that there is something in us that we can offer to God and he will approve and accept this offering and bless us. Or we can learn to relate to God on the basis of the better covenant which places the emphasis entirely on his almighty power of love to achieve what we cannot do. Our salvation is firmly rooted in the second since we are morally bankrupt and unable to live without God and his love.
Salvation under the second approach is clearly all of grace. It is rooted entirely in divine love. God achieved it and we receive it. This approach invites us to come humbly to God with his promise that on the basis of faith we can learn that our daily life is powered by divine love alone (cf. Gal. 5 above).
A literal translation of Galatians 5:6 says that we are in Christ through “faith energized by love.” Simply put the power of God’s love is the only energy/principle that can change us. And only his love can create in us a new motive to live a righteous and godly life. We come to know him, and who he is (“God is love”), and then in knowing him we have a living, faithful and intelligent trust in Christ alone. When he moves within us we will, like Sarah of old, laugh when we realize that what was previously impossible, because of our unbelief, is now made eternally possible through faith energized by love.