THREE RIVERS DISTRICT
“The Heart of Our Faith”
“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all;
therefore all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)
In February, which has Valentine’s Day almost smack in the middle, it seems one’s thoughts naturally go to love. There are a number of different legends out there about St. Valentine and I will leave it to you to research them for yourselves and decide which seems most plausible. But for Christians, there is another kind of love that is at the heart of our faith. (Pun intended.)
In I Corinthians 5:14, the author reflects on what the love of Christ motivates us to do in living out our faith after the model of Jesus Christ. The NRSV translation given above says that it "urges us on." Other translations render the verb as "compels" (NIV), "constraineth" (KJV), "controls" (RSV). I prefer the translation given in the NAB, "impels." The online Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation provides this helpful tip: “Think of ‘impel’ as the carrot and ‘compel’ as the stick.” In other words, if we’re impelled to do something, we are motivated by something positive; but if we’re ‘compelled’ it may be against our will.
In my earlier life, I occasionally did some work with water pumps. If you are familiar with water pumps, you know there is a part called the “impeller.” My explanation of engineering terms is inadequate, but (in basic terms) once a pump is primed, the impeller is the part that spins and creates centrifugal force that pulls water into the housing and then pushes it out in the desired direction of flow. The etymology of that word is pretty straightforward: im (towards) + pel (drive).
So Jesus’ love for us and the love he modeled for us “impels” us – pulls us along and pushes us along in the desired direction, which is to proclaim the good news of God’s love both by what we say and by what we do. If I can push the analogy a step further, a water pump can draw water that otherwise is hidden beneath the surface and moves it in a beneficial direction. We don’t want a stagnant faith. May the love of Christ impel us forward!
- Dr. Bradley G. Call
Three Rivers District
Rev. Dr. Brad Call
415 Walnut St.
Coshocton, OH 43812
Phone: (740) 622-8880
Fax: (740) 622-8884
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
*Closed Fridays in July and August
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