Sunday, February 11, 2007

Immanuel

If Jesus is more than an inspired human teacher, more than a rough approximation of God, if in Jesus we see the very heart of God, then this is wonderful news. We are no longer left guessing what God might be like. We are freed from projecting our own fears and wishes onto an unknown God. We can actually know what God is like.

And what is he like? John 1.14 gives the answer: full of grace and truth. And verse 16: From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. This is what God, our Father in heaven, is like. He is not cold and distant. He is like Jesus. If you want to know the heart of God, keep reading the Gospels and seeing the heart of Jesus. He is the kind of God who welcomes little children, the kind of God who hates religious hypocrisy, the kind of God who throws parties for the outsider, who opens the eyes of the blind, who feeds the hungry, heals the sick and raises the dead, who brings good news for the poor. In Jesus, we discover that God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light; he is gentle and humble in heart. He is the kind of God who, like Jesus, is easily misunderstood, but not easily ignored. He is a God who knows our suffering and temptations from the inside, who can sympathise with our weaknesses. He washes smelly feet and weeps over death. He is a God who would rather die than live without you. He is the kind of God who won’t let death stand in the way of his plans.

And all that is good news. Because left to ourselves, we generally assume that being divine is the opposite of being human. But we need to let God show us what God is like and stop imposing our ideas on him. We think God couldn’t become human because that wouldn’t threaten his holiness and perfection. The good news is that in Jesus, that is simply not true. God’s perfection is seen in his coming to live in our messiness; his holiness consists of making us clean.

And so in Jesus, Immanuel, we know that God is with us. Not just any god, not the god of our nightmares, yet neither the god of our fantasies. Instead, the God and Father of Jesus is with us. What wonderful news!
A couple of paragraphs from my sermon today.

8 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Wow! What a post! In a brief paragraph, you've just given the heart of the gospel--and, implicitly, the heart of the reason why true Christian faith ENTAILS gospel nonviolence! :-)

::aaron g:: said...

Must have been a good sermon to hear!

psychodougie said...

so are you trying to say that jesus isn't my boyfriend?

Exiled Preacher said...

Lovely post. Reminds me of the quote, "God is Christlike and in him there is no un-Christlikeness at all."

michael jensen said...

What God is like, or what God IS?

byron said...

MPJ - I should have just said 'is'.

Exiled Preacher - is that quote is a little stronger than my point here?

psychodougie - 'fraid not.

michael - perhaps I could have said, 'the kind of God who paid his taxes to a brutal regime and commended the faith of an army officer'... ;-)

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Jesus commended the faith--not the occupation--of the army officer. The taxpaying situation is more complex, but notice how shocking that was to the terrorist-sympathizers among his followers.
I still think your post implies gospel nonviolence--perhaps more than you know.

byron said...

Michael - true, Jesus also commends the faith of a prostitute (presumably this is what the innuendo of Luke 7 is referring to).