Uncoerced Love in Chaos and Grace

An excerpt from Mark Galli’s Chaos and Grace: Discovering the Liberating Work of the Holy […]

Win Jordan / 7.30.13

An excerpt from Mark Galli’s Chaos and Grace: Discovering the Liberating Work of the Holy Spirit:

Freedom CartoonFreedom is not some abstract concept about the ability of the human will. It is nothing less than a way to talk about love. When writing about love, I’m often tempted to add an adjective to it and talk about uncoerced love. True love is always uncoerced, always freely given. But we live in an age in which love is often construed as an obligation or a quid pro quo. We love our spouses because they love us. Or we are required to love the poor. And so forth. I want to add the word uncoerced not to suggest that love can be coerced but to emphasize this essential attribute of love.

Love is always free, and when one finds freedom, one will find love. God’s love for us is uncoerced and so freely given that it does not demand a response. But so freely is it given that it creates freedom in the recipient, so that our response is not one of obligation or duty, nor the returning of a favor, but uncoerced love.

The word the Bible often uses for our response of uncoerced love is thanksgiving. Paul says that as “grace extends to more and more people” it will “increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). Thanksgiving is a word, and a tone, that characterizes all of Paul’s letters.

So the synonyms expand: to live in thanksgiving to God is to live in uncoerced love toward him (in obedience) and toward others (in service). There we go again, another seeming antonym (freedom versus service) that in Christ amounts to the same thing. (p. 105)

subscribe to the Mockingbird newsletter


4 responses to “Uncoerced Love in Chaos and Grace

  1. Cal says:

    This is a great quote, especially how it circumvents the entire scholastic debate on freedom as Platonic fairy world of possibilities. It is a poverty of our language that one has to say uncoerced love even though real love (another adjective!) is by definition uncoerced. Just as love is also, by definition, other-oriented I tend to have to say “other-oriented love” or something of the sort.

    The bit that in Jesus freedom is service is profound, in that it is all love. JH Yoder once said that “agape” love is equivalent to justice and only looks different because the world is crooked. True love is wrath against the things that would destroy.

  2. DeeAnn says:

    Is this book available?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *