One of the more profound thoughts concerning our understanding of God I’ve come across in a while comes from the Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr.
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity; Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.
This gives my spirit wings.
This also gives us some better parameters through which we can begin to understand the God of the Old Testament.
For many, the primary thought concerning God and the purpose of Jesus was for Jesus to be the target of an angry God who must unleash his anger at humanity. That Jesus is the whipping boy for a father with anger issues.
The idea, of course, being that once God is able to punish someone else instead of us then he could find it within himself to love us.
The good Friar flips this whole concept on its head and it seems to make a whole lot of sense.
The issue of misunderstanding falls entirely on humanity. We’ve misunderstood the nature and character of God.
For example when we come to the conclusion that God wanted the Hebrew people to kill other nations, for whatever reason. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, there are 3 times where God specifically gives the Hebrew people plans to peacefully occupy the promised land. Even before they begin their conquest of the promised land the commanding officer of the Lord’s army shows up into the Hebrew camp to let Joshua know he was not in support of the battle that was about to take place.
Wait, but I thought God commanded it? If God commanded it why would the commander of his army not be supporting it?
What God commanded was that if the people would be patient he would clear the land for them and there would be no bloodshed.
Guess what? They, like us, lacked patience and took matters in their own hands. I don’t know about you but I feel like I can relate.
And what happens when we take matters into our own hands?
We usually make a mess of things.
You know, like how we’ve turned a God whose primary identity is love, into something other than love.
So what is God’s response to a people who have misunderstood the loving God of the universe?
He gifted himself to us so we could get to know him up close and personal.
The incarnation is God attempting to correct our understanding of himself.
The incarnation is is God saying “This is what I’m really like”.
So what’s the point?
The point is that every time you have an idea or thought about the nature of God, if that thought or idea doesn’t line up with or isn’t supported in the life and ministry of Jesus then you might want to re-examine that thought.
Jesus is the truest picture of God that we have.
John 10:30 – I and the Father are one.
John 14:7 – If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Hebrews 1:3a – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….
So every time someone says that God is unchanging, that he is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, I would say I 100% agree.
Then how do you deal with the violent God of the Old Testament and the loving sacrificial God of the new testament?
Humans misunderstood God.
God sent Jesus to help clear this up.
How cool is that?