God’s Losing Bet

God is a reckless romantic, driven by love to the point of poor decision-making.

That is what is revealed to us by the actions of the Trinity in creation, which we read today.

Far from a dry and repetitive etiology, the first two chapters of Genesis are a shockingly intimate portrait of the inner nature of God.

Through this outpouring of creativity, in the midst of this transcendently powerful generation of new life, we see the most hidden and intimate desire of God—to share God’s love through every atom of creation.

Creation is the work of the Word in the largest sense, the trees and the sky and the waters and us all spoken into existence on the breath of the Spirit from the mouth of God, for which Jesus will live and die and live again.

The nature of Trinity Sunday encourages us to think and talk about big, beautiful theological concepts, ideas that are too large for our minds but somehow fill our hearts with energy and light.

We are invited to dwell in the mystery of God, marveling at how God reveals Godself to us and longing for the day when we leave this earthly life and finish looking through a glass darkly, finally seeing God face to face.

But what does it all mean practically?

How can the theological doctrines of our faith, the ideas about God that are a hard-won mix of gut-level instinct about God and carefully worked-out intellectual exploration of God, help us to live better and deeper Christian lives?

These ideas are important because our insights into God create insights into ourselves, and the more we understand our own role and that of our neighbors in the great vastness of God’s universe of love, the better chance we have of entering the great dance with harmony and joy, of singing with God’s song of love rather than stopping our ears from hearing it or shouting discordantly against it.

Ilia Delio in her book The Humility of God talks about the Trinity as a “communion of persons-in-love.”  What a beautiful way for us to enter into an abstract theological doctrine and see its mystery and its joy.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a communion of persons-in-love.

The idea is that the internal community of the Trinity is founded on love, made of love, communicated through love, and made manifest in love.

In fact, the Trinity is so overflowing with love that it cannot be contained.  It spills out and spills over in an uncontainable gush of abundance.

That is what we call creation.

The love of the Trinity is so rich and so full that the Trinity could not bear to keep it to themselves.  A love this intense was begging to share itself, could not rest until it had more beings to pour itself out upon, and that is why God created the heavens and the earth.

But this perfect love deserved a perfect creation to lavish itself upon.

God created the heavens and the earth, all the plants and animals, and even humankind, and called them very good.

All existed in harmony.

But then God did something strange, something counterintuitive.

God gave the last creation, human beings, free will and intelligence.

God loved the plants and the animals, but they, by their nature, could not understand and communicate with God in the same way that human beings do.

God wanted someone to share fellowship with, as much as a finite creation can share fellowship with an infinite God.

And so God gifted us with memory, reason and skill, with the ability to obey or disobey God’s commandments, with the power to act in our own best spiritual interest or against it.

God created human beings with the power to reject God.

It is the type of sacrificial love that we would again see in Jesus.

God is taking a tremendous risk.

God is risking all of God’s love being thrown back in God’s face.

Actually, it’s more than a risk.

This was God’s losing bet.

God would rather know for sure that God’s heart would be broken by our sin than control us and guarantee we would obey and conform.

I think God knew what God was getting Godself into.

The moment we were created, we became the delight of God’s heart and the dagger that would one day pierce God’s heart with the death of God’s Son.

Jesus did not come to earth just to save us from our sin, although that was an important part of it.

Jesus came to earth to be in even closer fellowship with us.

Jesus came to earth because he couldn’t help it, because God’s restless and longing love for us wanted to be even closer to us, so close that Christ gave up all his heavenly power and took on a finite, limited human form to do so.

But it was another losing bet.

There was no way that we would summon the understanding to value him for who he was.

God knew we would kill him, and he came anyway.

The communion of persons-in-love once again chose a broken heart that is present with us rather than a whole heart with perfectly obedient creations.

And so God does something else in creation that we wouldn’t expect.

On the seventh day, God rested from all the work of creation.

How could an omnipotent and infinite God need to rest?

I think there were multiple reasons.

First, it is one more way God enters into our experience.

Nothing that happens to us is unimportant to God.

We in our fragile human bodies and minds get worn out and need rest.

God knew that about us and so set a model for us of Sabbath so that we would learn to care for ourselves and to set aside time for spiritual renewal.

I think it is God also building in time in the week for us to have fellowship and companionship with God.

God is jealous and hungry for our company.

It’s like taking someone’s calendar and filling in every Friday night for the next hundred years with “date with me.”

God wants a guaranteed date with us every week forever.

And maybe, just maybe, God was pausing to consider what future of heartache God had just created.

God would rather we be free than we be perfect, but God knew the pain that would create, not just the pain of God’s Son dying on the Cross, but the pain we ourselves would endure as a result of our mistakes and bad choices, the pain we would inflict on each other, the pain we would inflict on the earth with our selfish exploitation of it.

And so God paused and rested on the seventh day.

Perhaps God took a moment to consider that sin and death would stalk this new creation, human beings, and a great deal of the time, seem to be winning.

This was God’s last chance to back out.

Adam and Eve were still innocent and not really self-aware yet.

God could cancel the whole project and continue on in the beautiful flawlessness of the Trinity, the endless harmonious dance of perfect love.

But God rested, and God considered, and God chose.

God let the creation go free on the eighth day, free to the light and free to the darkness.

God chose us, set God’s heart free in an unsafe world, put God’s heart into our hands, knowing that we would shatter it, because God’s love for us was so great.

This is how much you mean to God.

This is why we’re here today.

This is why today is about more than just clever slogans about the three-in-one and the one-in-three.

Today is the day that we witness God letting go of perfection for the sake of love, God throwing God’s heart away on a hopeless bet, risking and losing everything because God’s love so longed to share and express itself.

God saw everything that would come, all the heartbreak and sin and death, and God still called it very good.

So when we consider ourselves unlovable, and whenever we consider a fellow human being unlovable, let us remember God throwing God’s life away out of love for each individual small human soul.

Our God is a reckless romantic, driven by love to the poor decision of giving God’s heart to us, knowing we will break it.

But every time we lift our own hearts in thanksgiving to God, every time we reach out and care for another of these precious human creations of God, God’s heart heals a little more.