Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Revelation of Divine Mercy

Friday, August 17th, 2018

The cross is not about the satisfaction of an omnipotent vengeance. The cross is about the revelation of divine mercy. In Christ we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. Once we understand that God is revealed in Christ (and not against Christ), we realize what we are seeing when we look at the cross. The cross is where God in Christ absorbs human sin and recycles it into forgiveness. At Golgotha humanity violently sinned its sins into Jesus. Jesus bore these sins all the way down into death and left them there. On the third day Jesus arose without a word of vengeance, speaking only “Peace be with you” on that first Easter. When we look at the cross we see the lengths to which God will go to forgive sin. The cross is both ugly and beautiful. The cross is as ugly as human sin and as beautiful as divine love — but in the end love and beauty win.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 87-88

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 27, 2014

God Never Turns Away

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Even when we turn away from God, he is always there, confronting us with his love. God is always toward us. Always for us. He comes, not as a condemning judge, but as a great physician.

Jesus was saving us from Satan, sin and death; not saving us from God.

God never turns away from humanity. God is perfectly revealed in Jesus. When did Jesus ever turn away from sinful humanity and say, “I am too holy and perfect to look on your sin?” Did Jesus ever do anything like that? No. The Pharisees did that. They were too holy and turned away. God is like Jesus, not like a Pharisee.

The gospel is this: when we turn away, he turns toward us. When we run away, he confronts us with his love. When we murder God, he confronts us with his mercy and forgiveness.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 294

[Photo: Heidi’s Alp, Switzerland, September 2002]

Drawing Sinners Close

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

I confess that I am often baffled when defenders of the traditional view of an everlasting hell say things like, “God will not tolerate sinners.” I know this doesn’t sound very nice to say, but it really makes me wonder if they have ever paid close attention to Jesus’s life. If one thing is abundantly clear about Jesus’s life, it is that he not only tolerated sinners, he loved them, ate with them, and accepted them into fellowship with himself, to the chagrin of the top religious leaders of his day (Luke 15:1-2). If we believe that Jesus reveals God more than anything or anyone else, as Christians have always believed, then how can we ever come to the conclusion that God cannot tolerate sinners? The Pharisees were the ones who thought that God could not tolerate sinners, not Jesus and his followers.

God loves sinners and wants to be with sinners (people like you and me). What God cannot tolerate is sin, because sin harms and destroys the good purposes that God has for people. Because God loves sinners, God hates sin. God’s goal is not to damn sinners, but to destroy sin, and the way that God destroys sin is by drawing sinners close to his heart of holy love which burns like a refiner’s fire.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 51

Photo: Shenandoah National Park, September 16, 2007

New-Creation Work

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Evangelism needs to be flanked with new-creation work in the realms of justice and beauty. If we are talking about the victory over evil and the launch of new creation, it won’t make much sense unless we are working for those very things in the lives of the poorest of the poor. If we are talking about Jesus winning the victory over the dark powers and thereby starting the long-awaited revolution, it will be much easier for people to believe it if we are working to show what we mean in art and music, in song and story.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 405

[Photo: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, March 17, 2012]

God Isn’t Conflicted.

Monday, August 6th, 2018

God’s essential unity is destroyed when we assign to him conflicting actions, as though his love demanded one course of action, and his justice another, as though God the Saviour were one person, and God the Judge a wholly different one. Or, again, when we blindly teach that, if his judgments now mean salvation, they at the great day mean endless damnation. God, I repeat, in his “judgments,” in his “fires,” in “death,” in “election,” God in time and in eternity is one and the same God (Heb 13:8), and has, and must have to all eternity, but one unchanging purpose — is and must be for ever God our Saviour.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 231

[Photo: Schloss Dhaun, Germany, July 2002]

Singing in the Midst of Evil

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we can stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold’s funeral, that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, still we make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 201

[Photo: Great Falls, Virginia, June 14, 2013]

God’s Joy

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

I was brought up and educated to give assent to certain propositions. God is love, for example. You concede “God loves us,” and yet there is this lurking sense that perhaps you aren’t fully part of the “us.” The arms of God reach to embrace, and somehow you feel yourself just outside God’s fingertips.

Then you have no choice but to consider that “God loves me,” yet you spend much of your life unable to shake off what feels like God only embracing you begrudgingly and reluctantly. I suppose, if you insist, God has to love me too. Then who can explain this next moment, when the utter fullness of God rushes in on you — when you completely know the One in whom “you move and live and have your being,” as St. Paul writes. You see, then, that it has been God’s joy to love you all along. And this is completely new.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 25

[Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012]

The Long Haul

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

We meet God in narrative too.

The origin stories of Scripture remind us we belong to a very large and very old family that has been walking with God from the beginning. Even when we falter and fall, this God is in it for the long haul. We will not be abandoned.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 20-21

Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, June 14, 1997

Sacrifice to End Sacrificing

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

So was the death of Jesus a sacrifice? yes, the death of Jesus was indeed a sacrifice. But it was a sacrifice to end sacrificing, not a sacrifice to appease an angry and retributive god. Jesus sacrificed himself to the love of God manifest in forgiveness, not to the wrath of God for the satisfaction of vengeance. It was not God who required the violent death of Jesus but human civilization. A system built upon violent power cannot tolerate the presence of one who owes it nothing. Jesus was nailed to the ultimate symbol of violent power. But Jesus’s act of forgiveness transformed the cross into a new symbol — the symbol of Christian faith, hope, and love. The sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to convince us to quit producing sacrificial victims, but it was not necessary to convince God to forgive. To forgive sinners is the nature of God. When Jesus prayed on the cross for the forgiveness of his executioners, he was not acting contrary to the nature of God; he was revealing the nature of God as forgiving love. The cross is not what God does; the cross is who God is!

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 86-87

[Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003]

God Stoops.

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

God stoops. From walking with Adam and Eve through the garden of Eden, to traveling with the liberated Hebrew slaves in a pillar of cloud and fire, to slipping into flesh and eating, laughing, suffering, healing, weeping, and dying among us as part of humanity, the God of Scripture stoops and stoops and stoops and stoops. At the heart of the gospel message is the story of a God who stoops to the point of death on a cross. Dignified or not, believable or not, ours is a God perpetually on bended knee, doing everything it takes to convince stubborn and petulant children that they are seen and loved. It is no more beneath God to speak to us using poetry, proverb, letters, and legend than it is for a mother to read storybooks to her daughter at bedtime. This is who God is. This is what God does.

Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 11-12

[Photo: Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, November 11, 2017]