Awaiting the Arrival: Love, Power or Nothing – Kenneth Tanner
You either believe that the end is the arrival of power, or you believe that the end is the arrival of nothing, or you believe that the end is the arrival of love.
A lot of people believe we are waiting for the arrival of nothing. At the end of their physical life, the person they were is gone forever, disappearing as quickly as the brain cells die, never to return. This is also how they see the end of everything and everyone else. Sooner or later it’s all going dark. No ultimate justice. No ultimate mercy. No ultimate meaning. Nothing.
Many more people believe we are waiting for the arrival of power, a power that imposes its will on everything and everyone more or less the way that the worst sort of humans and dark spirits—both at present and in history—impose their will and power: by killing, by taking, by destruction. This is the work not of God but, as Jesus tells us, the work of the Enemy.
Whatever differences there may be in the story these “believers” tell about the final arrival of power across the religions and philosophies of the world the theme is more or less “our God (or idea) wins.” And the way their god or idea wins looks a lot like the way a military power conquers and subdues. Their god is synonymous with Brute Force.
But there is another way, another vision, of the end. It is about the final arrival of Love. It is not about a power that triumphs but a love that converts. The weakness of this God is greater than human strength. The humility of this God is greater than human pretenses about controlling the world. The vulnerability of this God brings our notions and idols and weapons of power to nothing.
This God brings a fitting end to history by dying so that his creation and everything in it can be alive with the Spirit that in the beginning breathed the cosmos into existence from nothing.
The cross upon which we killed God, where God offers Godself for the life of the world, is the tipping point of history, where God brings an end to death that is also the end of all endings, and an Arrival—not of nothing, nor of power as humans comprehend power, but of everlasting life, the power of an indestructible life.
Yes, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father but this great moment that is coming is not about coercion, not about force, but about an untrammeled vision of Love that is so compelling and converting and wondrous that the only response is awe and worship and gratitude beyond any experience of joy the world of veils and tears can offer.
Simply stated, we will be overwhelmed by the generosity and beauty of the Love that is God.
You have to have a face for God to wipe away your tears, and you have to have knees to bow, and you have to have a tongue to confess. And the dead have none of these things, only the living.
I usually get impatient when people say that we know little about what the end will look like. Not so. We know that we will have eyes to see and ears to hear and knees to bow and tongues to confess.
And there will be so much more than this. The end is Love.
Kenneth Tanner is pastor of Church of the Holy Redeemer in Rochester Hills, Michigan