The Face of the Father
On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached what would become his most famous sermon: Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.
Edwards must have had a particularly bad week leading up to that sermon because this is what he told his congregants:
"The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath toward you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire."
This image of God that Edwards painted would become perhaps the dominant image lifted up by Christians in America for centuries---one that still persists today.
In fact, I have had more than a few difficult and painful conversations over the years with disillusioned Christians who can't get beyond the images of a seemingly angry, vengeful God that appear throughout the Bible.
Sadly, far too many Christians, who lift up the image of an angry God, also seem to be pretty angry, too. It doesn't have to be this way, though.
Author Brian Zahnd recently wrote:
"However else we address the problem of proof-texting an angry God, we must always remember that any depiction of God, from whatever source, is subordinate to the revelation of God seen in Jesus."
He also adds:
"As it turns out, God is neither menacing nor faceless, Jesus Christ is the face of the Father."
In other words, as Jesus himself said: "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father..." or "I and my Father are one..."
I don't know about you, but this is truly Good News to me--the kind of news that I think our world needs to know right about now. God is not angry at you. God loves you more than you will ever know. And Jesus is proof of that love, and of how far that God is willing to go to draw you closer.
May you find ways to embrace the loving images of God that you see in Jesus. May you seek to know him more and to follow him more fully.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.