Creation, God, Jesus, Josef Pieper, Love, poetry, theological virtues
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
–The Biblical Creation Account; Genesis 1:31
God talks to me a lot. That may sound funny to many; however, it is true. No, it is not an audible voice; rather, He speaks to me through others, usually authors, and most frequently through authors who are no longer living. Is has ceased to surprise me that as I am puzzling over a question authors will appear with whom I can enter into the question at hand. This quetins of loving one’s enemy is no exception. Enter Josef Pieper, a German Christian (Catholic) philosopher who specializes in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. My thinking is my interacting with his (Faith, Hope, Love, Ignatius Books) writing on love and that of others.
Love is one of the three theological virtues; faith and hope are the other two. The greatest of these is love (1Corinthians 13:13); faith and hope cannot be understood apart from love. But, what does it mean to love? Poets have tried for millennia to describe it. “How do I love thee…” Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously asks, then tries to answer. St. Paul, the poet, tries to describe love in his letter to Corinth (Love is patient, love is kind,…1Corinthians 13:4-8). Poetry, in fact, seems to be the only language we have to express love, and even often it seems inadequate even in the hands of a master poet.
St. John, often called the Apostle of Love, dispenses with poetry and states a brute fact: God is love (1John 4:8). This is what Christians believe and it is at the heart of the Christian conception of love: we must love our neighbors because God first loved us (1John 4:19); failure on our part calls into question our love for God (1John 4:20); mutual abiding, God in us, us in God, perfects love within us (1John 4:16-17).
The Christian account of creation begins with, “In the beginning, God created…” All that is other than the Trinitarian God Himself–Father, Son, Holy Spirit–has been created by God, this is the Christian view. At the end of the creation period (six days or day-ages), God “saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). It was very good. In God’s eyes, it is good that the creation exists. Why is the creation “good”?
To answer that question, it seems to me, is to answer the question, “Why did God create?” I can’t pretend to know the motives of God; however, perhaps we can infer at least some of the answer. The trajectory of the Christian scriptures, the Bible, tell us that God wants a relationship with us, and more than a God-servant relationship, He wants to share the very relationship with us that exists between God the Father and God the Son (Jesus). We are invited to be one with Jesus as Jesus is one with God the Father (John 17:25-26). Perhaps, then, the love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity is so profound that this loving God determined to share it with created beings made in His image (human beings, see Genesis 1:26).