Compelled by love, convinced by faith, engaged in life.
These three statements, crafted by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, form the guiding framework for the part of the Body we call Q50 Community Church. As we gather each week, banners with these phrases frame the front of our meeting space. These are not marketing slogans. These define the core of who we are and why we do what we do.
I love the word “compelled.” It beautifully captures the irresistible urge of God’s own heart. He is the creator of all things. And even though His world is now broken and dysfunctional, He still loves it. It is this love that places urgency in our hearts; the urgency to love others in response to the love we have received. After all, did not Jesus say that loving God and loving others was the full expression of the Old Testament?
We usually associate “love” as an action of the heart. It is also a function of the mind. Our relationship with God is sourced in His love but our response to Him is characterized by faith. Faith is neither blind nor a leap into the dark. It is the affirmation of what cannot be seen because of the reality of what can be seen. We also begin to understand who God is - the nature and character of His own being, the nature of His created order (for example, learning what is true, what is real, and what has value), and what it means for us to be “created in His image.” These are cerebral functions which equip us to express our love beyond mere emotion or feelings.
Integrated together, these being compelled by love and convinced by faith equips us for being engaged in life as citizens of the Kingdom of God. We have the context for a healthy perspective of “now” and hope for the “yet to come.”
Isn’t it really convenient how I’ve reduced all of life - our faith, our daily routines, our future hope - into a neat, compact theology-algorithm?
Don’t misunderstand. I stand by these three statements: Compelled By Love; Convinced By Faith; Engaged In Life. I also understand that life - especially a life lived by faith - is too complicated to reduce to an algorithm. It is because of this complexity that we tend to drift toward structures and rules that seem to make it easier to understand the chaos that seems ever-present. We like explanations. We like things to make sense. To our frustration, God often doesn’t (seem to) make sense. It isn’t enough to say, “trust and obey.” That kind of dismissive simplicity may cause us to walk away from faith instead of toward God. That’s why it is important to understand this underpinning truth: Grace.
The over-arching truth upon which the three guiding statements express is that God is a gracious God. To love, have faith, engage in life as part of His Kingdom would be impossible if left to our own creative algorithms. Grace means that God has done everything possible to have love, faith, and life in a broken world. Grace means that while we will not always understand why stuff happens the way it does, we have confidence that God’s authority and eternal plan is not being undermined. Grace means that even when we suffer injustice, God will be faithful to strengthen us to endure and to ultimately bring all things to accountability.
The danger of theological-algorithms should be plain to see. If we think we have the formula for our spiritual life all neatly defined, we will fail to see the more unusual expressions of God’s grace - especially in the moments when brokenness is most obvious. It is a life-long learning curve to see and appreciate the extent to which God’s grace saturates our reality. Only in eternity will we fully appreciate it. We do know, though, His grace is present and real here and now. We know it is the only basis for a reconciled relationship with God and with one another.
The world, and all it contains, exists in a complex dynamic that cannot be reduced to an algorithm. It can, however, be perceived through the lens of God’s grace. The ability to love as God loves, to be confident of in our faith, and to impact those whom God has placed in our lives is a work of grace. And thankfully, God’s grace is at work - in us, through us, and most commonly, in spite of us.