Two Difficult Things

Two Difficult Things
Photo by Jez Timms / Unsplash

Eugene Peterson in the introduction to 1st John from the Message Bible:

“The two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God. More often than not, the mess people make of their lives can be traced to failure or stupidity or meanness in one or both of these areas. The basic and biblical conviction is that the two subjects are intricately related. If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love can’t be separated… Jesus shows us the mature working-out of love. In Jesus, God and love are linked accurately, intricately, and indissolubly.”

The summation of our lives is determined by how we deal with God and love. In the broader societal, cultural, and systemic conversations and manifestations of evil and cruelty and injustice, you’ll find an absent or immature wrestling with God and love.

Our lack of love is rooted in how wisely and maturely we deal with the God who is Love. When ultimate love is pursued apart from God, our lives and communities slam into the guardrails, leaving the grounding center of God-Highway. Our loves often aimed in directions away from the God of infinite love.

Mind you, the poorly directed affections of the heart are not a unique problem to one person or a particular community. We're wired for love and to not pursue it goes against our nature and biology. Our hearts are love factories, or, as James KA Smith said, love pumps.


The Triune God made us to love because he is love. Our world is built on love. The love pump never stops beating, even if we try to switch it off. So what happens when our loves are attached to something temporal and not wrapped up in the Trinity-God-love? What are the results?

When seeking loves apart from God’s ultimate love is a never-ending cycle of disappointment. Some call it sin or idolatry. It’s taking the good stuff God made and turning it into a poor God-Substitute. We bow to a cheap knock off and shabbily made version of the original. Our hearts shattered on the floor, wondering where it all went wrong.

Also, when we don’t wisely and maturely work out the God and love question, we have no chance of loving others well. We become mean or insensitive or impatient because we do not root our love in Ultimate-God-Love. We end up using people to satisfy what primarily belongs to God.

Every human is on a quest for love… because every human is made by and for God. You can’t talk about the one without the other.

I agree the Love-and-God conversation is difficult to get straight. But worth the effort.