Robust in Love

Peterson - Practice ResurrectionWith today being Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write on the topic of love.

I am struck by this statement made by Eugene Peterson in Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing up in Christ.1 He states this as the subject of his book: “healthy in God, robust in love.”2

What does it look like to be robust in love? And how does this happen? Peterson gets this phrase from his own translation of Ephesians 4:16:

We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Peterson suggests that being healthy in God and robust in love requires that which is counter intuitive to the typical North American lifestyle: quietness, obscurity, patience, and a willingness to give up control.3 This is done, according to Peterson, as “we keep company with Jesus, alive and present, who knows where we are going better than we do, which is always ‘from glory to glory.'”4

The term “robust in love” is used within the context of community. Paul uses in depth the imagery of the church as a body, with Christ as the head and the lifeblood. The concern of this particular passage is that the body works properly. In order to work properly, the body must be nourished by Christ.

Take a moment to think about what this means. Christ is a person. He is not a program or a doctrine. He is not an idea to agree with or a moral standard to live by. He is the very life and breath of the church. What, then, are we expected to do with Christ?

This is where things get troublesome for our consumeristic culture: we are expected to simply be connected to Christ. Our trouble is that we think there is always something that needs to be done. Yes, there are things that need to be done, but the most important things, the things that involve being healthy in God and being robust in love, have very little to do with action and have far more to do with just being the body.

  1. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010 []
  2. p. 5 []
  3. p. 6 []
  4. p. 8 []

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