Given the times in which we live, calling anyone an extremist is not really a very good thing. When most people hear the term, their minds turn to some sort of radical, criminal, and nearly always murderous behavior – bombings, mass shootings, etc.
Synonyms for extremist include fanatic, radical, and ultraist. The Oxford dictionary defines an extremist as “a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action”.
So then, how can I make the statement that God the Father is an extremist? I am not using the word as if it describes a terrorist, but rather as a descriptor of His extreme love for us His creation, and the realization we are called to emulate it. One young priest whom we met a few years ago would refer to the love of God as being scandalous, and, if you think about it, at one level, that degree of love and the actions undertaken would be scandalous.
An Example Or Two
How about the Book of Genesis? God, the Trinity is complete and perfect as He/They is/are, and there is no real need for anyone or anything else. Yet, the legions of angels exist to serve Him. He created the universe and the billions of stars which are circled by countless more planets, and these contain perhaps trillions of life forms, bacteria, moss, kittens, ambulating brass door knobs, there is no way to know from here what may exist there.
Then, the creation of Man. For what purpose? From the Baltimore Catechism, we get the answer that “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” He didn’t need us, He doesn’t need us, He simply wants us to share in forever. Now, to me, that would speak of extreme love and would provide an insight into an extremist perspective.
The next example that comes to mind is essentially the entire book of Exodus. To help convince the Pharaoh to let His people go, He inflicts Egypt with a series of plagues, including the death of the first born of every household and animal.
So, it may be argued that He had displayed a rather extremist position in the actions undertaken to get His people free. Moses and the entire Nation of Israel were ultimately given their freedom, natural law had been suspended and they crossed the Red Sea.
Now the Israelites were getting stressed given the lack of food. The crowd was complaining, yelling, and ready to return to Egypt until Moses spoke to the Father and asked Him to intervene. The Father provided manna from Heaven, not for that day, or that week, but kept sending it every day for the length of the trip. That may qualify as a display of extreme love.
After some period of time, the crowd was complaining that all they had was this miserable food, and He sent them birds to be used as a protein source. Think about it, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of a desert, and flocks of birds appear out of nowhere, again, not once or twice but for a very long period of time that may be seen as another demonstration of extremist love.
Other Ways God May Be Called an Extremist.
The examples provided thus far are mired in ancient history and may serve as a backdrop for the love the Creator has for His creation, but, so far removed, it has almost an abstraction to it. We all know that God loves us, but do we really KNOW that He loves us?
Let’s take a look at our typical daily activity just to check it out…
We awaken in the morning which is already a confirmation that God loves us since we know that if He were to stop thinking about us, we would cease to exist at all levels, living, dead, immortal soul and all.
We can hear the birds outside and it proves to us that there is still an atmosphere, and the daylight proves to us that the sun is still in the sky. Simple things certainly, but further demonstrations of God’s love.
The warmth of a handshake or the embrace of a friend is a glorious example of affection, but it pales in comparison with the depth, breadth, height, and intensity of God’s love for us.
We are called upon to do a variety of things in this life, know God and love Him with all of our being and to love other’s as we love ourselves. This last half of the sentence happened not too terribly long ago as three men, most likely strangers, riding a train in Portland, Oregon were trying to protect a couple of Muslim young women from a fellow who had been taunting them, yelling obscenities at them and acting as some sort of threat to them. Three men approached him to get him to calm down and chill, when he attacked them with a knife and killed two of them, the third had his throat slit.
These men did the best thing they knew how to do, try to calm the attacker down a bit, and protect the young women by putting themselves in harm’s way to shield them.
John Donne’s Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
Many people are aware of the poem, “No man is an island” by John Donne. However, the work appears much earlier as Meditation 17 from the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, the phrase which comes to mind is “… any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde…”
The three men who stood up for the young women did the best they knew how to do and two of them paid the greatest price. God loves us much more than these men cared for the young women who were being harassed, He sent His Son to Earth to be killed for our sins.
The courage of the men in Portland is dramatic, their love for the young women was at that time all consuming, and they were doing the work of the Father as they were not thinking of their own safety. May they be granted eternal rest. They displayed an extremist level of love towards the young women, and may we take their model of love in action to heart, not as much to be copied, but to be cherished.