God’s Risk (Part I)
The human being, the being who is personal, is the pinnacle of creation. With humanity the omnipotence of God gives rise to something radically new. Not a lifeless reflection or a puppet, but a freedom which can oppose God, and put the fulfillment of God’s creation in jeopardy by excluding him from it. In the supreme achievement of God’s creative omnipotence – for only life giving Love can create a free living being – there is an inherent risk.
Omnipotence finds fulfillment in self-limitation. In the creative act itself, God in some manner limits himself, withdraws, to give human beings space in which to be free. At its highest point omnipotence thus conceals a paradoxical impotence; because the summit of omnipotence is love, and God can do everything except force human beings to love. To enter into love, as we know, is to put ourselves without protection at the mercy of the worst suffering, that of rejection and abandonment by the one we love. Creation is in the shadow of the cross. The Lamb of God, according to the Book of Revelation, is slain from the foundation of the world.
The divine will always lay itself open to the trials and errors, the waywardness, the rebelliousness of humanity, in order to lead it, perhaps, to a free consent. Thus does the Lord train us. By itself this might seem a weak image if we think of God as the beggar of love waiting at the gate of the soul and never daring to force it. ‘In fact, he is not content with calling to him the slave whom he has loved, but he comes down and looks for him himself; he the rich, draws near to our poverty, he offers himself, declares his love and begs us to return it; in the face of rejection, he does not go away, he takes no offence at injury; if repulsed, he waits at the door and does everything to show himself a true lover; he suffers wounds and dies…’ (Nicholas Cabasilas, Life in Christ).
The love of God is thus the space in which I am free. If God is not, I am no more than a particle of society and of the universe, subject to their determinisms, eventually to death. But if God is crucified Love, I am offered freedom without bounds, a share of the freedom of God himself.
From Olivier Clement, On Human Being: A Spiritual Anthropology
“Let us strive to seek after that supreme good that the Lord spoke to us about, and let us desire this with great longing so that we may enter into the ineffable love of the Spirit that Saint Paul advised us to strive after when he told us to “seek after love.” (I COR. 14:1) In this way we will be turned from our hardness of heart by the right hand of the Most High and be made worthy to come into the day; our spirits finding their rest and their deepest delight when they are wounded by the love of God. For the Lord greatly loves humankind and is deeply moved whenever human beings, in their inmost self, turn wholly to him.” ~Makarios the Great
From John Anthony McGuckin, The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent, from the Desert Fathers and other Early Christian Contemplatives