LOVE AS CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION
Sunday, April 10, 2005
I Corinthians 13:8-13; 14:1
Florence and I never saw a 90 year old lady so radiant and excited. We just arrived for a church banquet and were met at the entrance by this 90 year old lady (Nellie Takeda). She had recently returned from the hospital after an operation and she was beaming with joy. Without any explanation she took us to her home just a few doors from the church and escorted us up the stairs and rushed us to her bedroom. There she held high a sign with the words GOD IS LOVE. She turned to me and said, “Isn’t this what it’s all about!”
She has been a Christian all her life, but after her resurrection from the hospital bed, it dawned on her in a most meaningful way than ever before that God is Love.
Most of us know that God is love, we believe this, we repeat this time and time again, but it takes some traumatic or special experience before the fact that God is love hits home in our souls and transforms us!
One army chaplain told me that when he was on a train with a group of soldiers, one of the soldiers began to sing “Jesus loves me this I know: for the Bible tells me so” . . . suddenly, the whole group of soldiers began to sing with him. What was so surprising was that they spontaneously begin to sing the second and third verses as well. Somewhere along the way most of us learned that God is love and Jesus loves me.
The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 1:8-13 wrote:
Love never ends, as for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
Love never ends; prophecy will pass away; tongues will cease; knowledge will pass away. Prophecy, tongues, knowledge, faith, and hope are all imperfect and will pass away, but only Love is perfect. Love is greatest, Love is true maturity, Love is eternal and will never pass away. Therefore “Make love your aim.”
I John 4:8, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” Isn’t this what it is all about?”
I. GOD IS LOVE AND LOVE IS THE CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION TO BRING CREATION OUT OF CHAOS
Transformation of individuals, communities, nations, the world and the universe can be bought about only by LOVE that is the creative power of God. Education and knowledge alone cannot bring about genuine transformation. Technology, politics, economics, military strength, even miracles cannot bring about transformation.
Our dear friend and my mentor, Dr. Jitsuo Morikawa asked the administration of Michigan University, “What is education for?” The University’s questionnaire to their student body asked the same question. Their answer was: a good job, security for life, to marry and have a good family. Dr. Morikawa’s answer was: “Education is for living: Peace, joy, harmony, genuine community, and oneness. He introduced a Conference on Values and Ethics to which the administration and faculty responded enthusiastically.
Love is the creative transformation that brings creation out of chaos—the fulfillment and enjoyment of living.
The early church Fathers recognized with John that the “Logos” (translated “Word”) is the creative transforming power of God. John 1:1-5:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it.
We read in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” The creative transforming power “Logos” became flesh—Love became flesh. Jesus, as the Christ, is the creative transforming power of God made flesh. What we see in Jesus, the Christ, is Love—Love the creative transformation made human or what we call the “incarnation.” It is the love of God, the Logos, that we witness in Jesus that transforms us.
People are changed, not so much by doctrine or even theology, but by the love of God, the creative transforming power we see in Jesus, and as we see in persons—in your life! Transformation is contagious by lives, not words. Christ as Love in you is the creative transforming power.
II. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST-LIKE LOVE IN US IS THE POWER OF GOD IN ALL HUMAN TRANSFORMATIONS
The creative transformation is involved in all human love and in all our relationships. The meaning of life and existence is relationship. No man is an island and there is no meaning to life in isolation. The creative transformation as “Logos” or love is not limited to Christianity but is universal. We Christians have responded to love as the creative transformation as we see it in Jesus.
One of my dearest friends is a Buddhist. I see and experience the creative transformation in his life: for love as creative transformation is incarnate in his life. Late one night after a meeting of our Diaconate, I jumped in my car parked on Telegraph Avenue, turned on the key, and nothing happened. I went to the front of my car, opened the hood and found the battery gone. I phoned Triple A, but it was too late for service. I called my Buddhist friend, who was also a mechanic. It was past ten-thirty at night, when I called, “Kuni, can you help me? Someone must have stolen my battery from my car and I’m stranded here on 22nd and Telegraph.” He must have been in bed, but he replied, “I’ll be right there.” In about 20 minutes he was there with a battery, placed it in my car, and took off. Just the other day, I phoned my Buddhist friends again: “Kuni, I need your help. I have an old Volvo that I need to get rid of before I move to Southern California. Can you help me?” He not only came to our house everyday during the week, left his car near our home, drove our car to his place about 6 miles away and came back with our Volvo every night and drove his own car home. Because he cared for our car, the car runs well now and we can either keep it or sell it. He charged me for some parts that the car needed. He filled my tank with gasoline, changed the oil and cleaned my car. I can’t thank him enough. He may be a Buddhist but as far as I’m concerned, he possesses the creative transformation of God’s love that we, Christians, see in Jesus.
The creative transformation that we call Logos that is universal and for Christian is seen in Jesus, the Christ, is the nature and life of the Christian Church as the body of Christ. It is our calling and task to transmit this love to others and to our world. In other words, love others and our world.
This, I believe, is the meaning of Pentecost when those gathered together were all together in one place and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). As we have responded to the love of God, the creative transformation becomes our identity, our nature, and is transmitted to others. Thus, together, we are the body of Christ. The communion service is our communion with God and our communion with each other in the creative transformation of love.
III. WE ARE CALLED TO BE CO-CREATORS OF THE WORLD WITH GOD’S LOVE AS CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION
God is love as creative transformation, the universal Logos. We must never lose sight that God is love. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4:8). We know God because we love. And love as the creative transformation makes us co-creators of the world bringing about creation out of chaos.
Since God’s love is for the whole cosmos, the whole world, our aim and calling must be international and universal, not limited to the institutional church or even to our nation. God’s love is global and not just local. This means our calling has no boundaries and includes every creature and every religion. Our love as God’s creative transformation respects all people and all religions in our pluralistic world.
We read: God, our Creator, “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and unjust” (Matthew. 5:45). To love everyone is to be a mature person, as a perfect person created anew in the image of our Creator.
The Pine Japanese United Methodist Church in San Francisco recently took up a collection in their congregation to replace the door of the Islamic Mosque that was damaged by vandals, and the fellowship between the two groups is a sight to behold. This is love as creative transformation at work.
Conclusion: The universal Logos is love as creative transformation of God; for God is love. Our task of love is being co-laborers with God in continuing the work of creation out of chaos as our Creator God of Love seeks the joy and blessings of every creature universally. This is Love as creative transformation, which is from the beginning, with God, and is God.