From The Cross in the End-Times
No Shadow of Turning in Perfect Love (James 1:17)
One of the developments that have resulted from the steady progress of modern Christian theology is a more insightful understanding and articulation of the concept of the Trinity (Mt. 3:16-17; Jn. 1:32-34). This understanding of the relational friendship and love enjoyed between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all eternity sheds light on the concept of unselfish and giving love, perfect in its expression within the fellowship of the Triune God. A God who has been alone since eternity could not claim to have much credibility in the area of understanding perfect friendship and love.
But a singular God who knows how to exercise perfect love in friendship and harmony within the complex nature of the three distinct Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, gives us a better understanding and comprehension of many of the core doctrines, teachings, and truths of the Bible. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” combined with “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”, makes more sense in the light of a model of unity, friendship, and love expressed within the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, since before time began.
A God whose program is based upon getting us back into a condition where He can unselfishly share with us the same quality of love He enjoys within the Trinity, adds that one helpful additional element to our understanding of the motivation behind God’s composition of our journeys of faith.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the Father: “if thou be willing, remove this cup from me” but then surrenders His own personal preference in deference to the ancient course of action planned by Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, working closely together as a team to provide salvation for mankind through the cross and the resurrection. Jesus frames the classic sentiments of unselfish, sacrificial love by going on to say: “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” (Lk. 22:42).
This is one of the fundamental realities that is at the best and highest of the human experience. In entering into a successful marriage, both husband and wife must lovingly and willingly surrender some of themselves to the wishes of their partner. Part of the expression of love is this willingness to please the other person in the giving over of our own will and way, not just to maintain harmony, but because we genuinely care about the other person’s wishes and desires.
The same thing occurs in maintaining a healthy friendship. We cannot enjoy a close friendship with another person if we insist upon having our way all the time. In meeting other people “half-way” in the making of plans for the weekend, or in taking vacation trips together, or in simply deciding where to get together for lunch, the exercising of a humble spirit of compromise and unselfishness goes a long way toward building close and mutually respectful friendships that can last a lifetime.
Jesus Christ the Son of God surrenders a portion of His momentary preference to the eternally larger plan and scheme of salvation through the cross. This is deference to the will of the Father and in love for His neighbor…human beings (as a result of His Incarnation into the human race)…in perfectly executed fulfillment of the commandments of the law and the prophets (Mt. 7:12).
In Gethsemane and at Calvary, Jesus loses some of His individuality…His personal request to the Father to “remove this cup of suffering.” But in the highest and most sublime sense, in doing so, He gains back His individuality in defining Himself as the sacrificial atonement for sin, the Lamb of God Savior for all eternity. The self-sacrifice of the cross defines for all times the essence of truth, righteousness, and love. The power, beauty, and rightness of the plan of salvation amazingly take precedence over the individual wishes of even the divine Son of God living in a human body.
This places Jesus Christ at the forefront as our leader in this regard. When we give up something of ourselves, in a marriage relationship, in a friendship, within the structure of a healthy family life, and in a God-composed journey of faith following Jesus Christ according to His higher plans and not our own, we are experiencing one of the highest character traits leading to peace and goodwill for all eternity.