This session will be led by none other than the Dr. Jono Linebaugh. To register for the conference today, click here.

Jesus ChristI have a question.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8). That’s not a question, but it raises one—the one.

That “God is love” is a confession grounded in the cross of Jesus Christ: “This is love…that God loved us and sent his Son to be a sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, see also Romans 5:8). But, to sing an old song, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” No? Neither was I.

Remember Lessing’s “ugly, broad ditch”? “Accidental truths of history”, he wrote, “can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason.” There is, in other words, a gap between the “then” and “there” of Jesus’ death and the “here” and “now” of my life. U.G.L.Y.

But it gets uglier. If the death of Jesus, which happened in a distant “then” (the first century AD) and “there” (“in a tiny corner of the earth,” Reimarus), is the  definitive demonstration of God’s love, how does the divine “I love you” spoken “then” and “there” get to me “here” and “now”? To adapt Lessing: can an accidental love given in history be a new word of love received now? Can a past tense “I love you” be the basis for a present tense “I am loved”?

This, for me, is the “uglier ditch”—the time and space between God’s first century love and my life in the present tense. Let me put it more honestly: the “uglier ditch” is the disconnect between the “I love you” that is the cross of Christ and the “I am not loved” that is the fear and feeling of so much of life.

So, my question (“with a little help from my friend”, St. Paul): How is Jesus, “the one who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), received today (and tomorrow) as the one who loves me and gives himself to me?

I don’t know… But I know a few guys and gals who might be able to help.

I hope you can help, too.