Joy and Love: Thoughts of Dallas Willard             Transcribed by, 3/7/2013


We should… think that God leads a very interesting life, and that he is full of joy. Undoubtedly he is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of his love and generosity is inseparable from his infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul–exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breath and depth and richness… [Consider the most beautiful and awesome thing you have seen in all of your life...] God sees this all of the time. He sees it, experiences it, knows it from every possible point of view, this and billions of other scenes like and unlike it, in this and billions of other worlds. Great tidal waves of joy must constantly wash through his being. 

[We can be…] extremely happy for God and [we can think we have] some sense of what an infinitely joyous consciousness he is and of what it might have meant for him to look at his creation and find it "very good."… We treasure our great experiences for a lifetime, and we may have very few of them. But he is simply one great inexhaustible and eternal experience of all that is good and true and beautiful and right. This is what we must think of when we hear theologians and philosophers speak of him as a perfect being. This is his life... 

To God there is available… towering clouds of gases trillions of miles high, backlit by nuclear fires in newly forming stars, galaxies cartwheeling into collision and sending explosive shockwaves boiling through millions of light-years of time and space. These things are all before him, along with numberless unfolding rosebuds, souls, and songs – and immeasurably more of which we know nothing... 

Jesus himself was a joyous, creative person. He does not allow us to continue thinking of our Father who fills and overflows space as a marose and miserable monarch, a frustrated and petty parent, or a policeman on the prowl. One cannot think of God in such ways while confronting Jesus' declaration "he that has seen me has seen the Father." One of the most outstanding features of Jesus' personality was precisely an abundance of joy. This he left as an inheritance to his students, "that their joy might be full"... It is deeply illuminating of kingdom living to understand that his steady happiness was not ruled out by his experience of sorrow and even grief. 

So we must understand that God does not "love" us without liking us – through gritted teeth – as "Christian" love is sometimes thought to do. Rather out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self–renewed being, the Heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all of his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core – which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word, love... 

With such realities in mind, it then becomes illuminating to say that God is love. This proves to be very different from forcing a bedraggled human version of "love" into a mental blank where God is supposed to be, and then identifying God as that.

Dallas Willard, "The Divine Conspiracy", HarperCollins: 1998, ISBN 0060693320: pp.62-66.

John Hansel JrComment