Love Has Its Own Power

I’m sorry that it took me so long to get this podcast up. – James

In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, author Philip Yancey writes these words by way of contending that God does not want to overwhelm us with God’s power, but instead wants us to respond freely in a spirit of love: “Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us. Love has its own power, the only power capable of conquering the human heart.

Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a day for us to celebrate our roots in the Reformed tradition, along with an opportunity to consider the power of God’s grace and love for us that give us freedom. In another part of the book quoted above, Yancey writes, “The more I get to know Jesus, the more impressed I am by what might be called the ‘miracles of restraint’. Most amazing is Jesus’ refusal to perform and to overwhelm (which Satan tempted him to do during his Temptation in the desert). God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though he did not exist, to spit in his face, to crucify him.”

The Reformation brought along with it an emphasis on human freedom to respond to God with love, in gratitude for God’s amazing grace. Our Scripture lesson for Sunday is from John’s Gospel, chapter 21: 9–19 in which the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and has an important dialogue with Peter, who had denied him. Peter’s freedom gave him the opportunity to deny Christ, but that same freedom also made it possible for Peter to express his love and commitment when he sees Jesus once again. In the lesson, Jesus showed no coercion, no overwhelming power, just a simple request for a freely given love, because Jesus knew that “love is the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart.”

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