Dec 05 2013

Jesus is the Son of What Kind of God?

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We we Christians talk a lot about Jesus being the Son of God, but do we really think much about what kind of God would have Jesus as His Son?  People usually think of God in one of three ways.  (1) God as a separate judgmental being who will punish us if we don’t act right.  (2) God as a distant being who created the world and then left it to function without His intervention.  (3) God as an immediate and involved being who is intimately connected to His creation and is more concerned with expressing love than in doling out punishment.

Each view of God radically changes who His Son turns out to be.  If we think of God as separate, judgmental, and punishing, our view of Jesus is likely to be that he came to appease God and “pay for our sins.”  People with this view of God are likely to refer to God as “The man upstairs.”  If we think of God as a remote being who is not directly involved in His creation, then our view of Jesus is likely to be that he came from somewhere else, was on earth for a time, and then went back where he came from maybe to show up here again some day.  People with this view of God are likely to say “God doesn’t care about me.” or “God doesn’t care that bad things happen.”

If we think of God as a caring involved being more concerned with expressing love than doling out punishment, our view of Jesus is likely to be that he came to show us what the love of God looks like in a human being, he came to show us that God suffers along with us, and he came to draw us closer to being who we are designed to be.  People with this view of God are likely to say things like “Thank you God, for loving even a sinner like me.” or “How can I be more like Jesus?”

So, before we unthinkingly talk about Jesus as the Son of God, it is important to figure out who we think God is in the first place.  Who we think God is makes all the difference in who we think Jesus is.

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Jan 12 2013

God’s Word or God’s Words?

Photo of the BibleIsn’t it funny how we sometimes lead ourselves astray by simply misinterpreting a word.  Years ago we licensed a new lay reader in our church.  We’re talking about the Episcopal Church, so when passages from the Bible are read in a service, the lay reader ends each reading by saying “The Word of the Lord.”  However, this newly licensed lay reader did not read the instructions carefully and we found him saying “The Words of the Lord.”

So which is it?  Some folks would argue that every word in the Bible is to be taken as God speaking directly to us in His words.  To do so is to completely miss a very different and much more important use of the word “word”.  If I promise to meet you at noon for lunch, I have given you my word.  I haven’t given you a literal text but a promise.  When we refer to God’s word, we refer primarily to His promise, not His words.  Or more to the point, his promises.   The Bible is full of God’s promises.  In Exodus 6:7 we read,  “I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God.”   That’s a promise.  In John 11:25, Jesus promises, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”  In Matthew 28:20, we read, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  These are promises.  The Bible is full of promises.  Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are hidden within the major themes of the Bible.

If we think of the Bible as the words of God, we may miss the deeper truth that the Bible is a more a book of promises than a book of words to follow.  In fact it is a Testament of promises, but that’s another article.  In his daily meditations  Richard Rohr said recently, “The sacred texts of the Bible are filled with absolute breakthroughs, epiphanies, and manifestations of the highest level of encounter, conversion, transformation, and Spirit. The Bible also contains texts which are punitive, petty, tribal, and idiotic.”  If this is true, which I believe it is, then it is pointless to look at the Bible as the words of God.  God is not a punitive, petty, tribal and idiotic god.  On the other hand, the Bible is a book of wonderful promises about life that are revealed all among the words in it.

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