The death of the monster god.
Odd title from a pastor I know. But as I think about the upcoming Easter celebration and the death of Jesus it makes me think of all the poor images of God we have been handed down. None of these images come from Scripture but rather through poor readings of Scripture or from a guilt based religion that tries to control others.
I have spoken to many people who in one way or another held to the idea that God had turned his back on them because of their sin. I have also spoken to a number of Christians that have felt as though if they sinned that God would indeed turn from them and thus their desire for obedience comes from fear rather than love. Where does this image of a dead beat dad come from?
I believe it comes from two scriptures. The first is found in Habbakuk 1:13 in the NIV it reads like this. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, you cannot tolerate evil.” Yet just below this verse in the same breath we read (ESV) “Why do you idly look at traitors”. Obviously Habbakuk was not trying to say God does not look on sin but rather was asking a question of why in your holiness do you allow sin.
And this takes us to the next Scripture. Matt 27:46. As Jesus hung on the cross he cried out to God with these very words. Some have argued that because Jesus was carrying the guilt of our sin God turned his back on Jesus because he is unable to look upon sin.
Yet there is a huge problem with this. Jesus was quoting Psalms 22 and in the usual Hebrew way he quoted one verse with the intent of those hearing it recalling the full chapter. Psalms 22 is a prophetic chapter that tells the story of the death of Jesus. And it ends this way, verse 24 “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry.”
Far from turning His back on sin God jumps into the mess with us. This is the story of Jesus. God is just like Jesus; God is incarnate in Jesus. In the midst of our mess God rushes into our human frailty and mess in the person of Jesus. True we often turn our back on God but every time we turn there he is. The cross is not a symbol of God’s hate towards humanity but, rather it is a story of how God rushed into our mess to show us love.
During this time of the year when you see the symbol of the cross please do not see an angry God but rather; see the God who in open arms took the worst of humanity and then cried out “Father forgive them…”. God is not hunting you down to punish you, he is hunting you down to love you, embrace you and to heal you of all your wounds and scars.
No matter how far you are from God or how sinful you may feel He has not turned his back on you but rather he is there with you right now, as a loving father wanting to embrace you with forgiving love.
On the cross Jesus destroyed the image of the monster god who hates us and revealed the true image of God: a father who will go into the deepest of pits to embrace and heal us. Embrace His love and allow His forgiveness to heal you of your wounds, your anger, your hatred and your fear.
God is not a tyrant He is a loving father who will never turn His back on you.