God is Christlike
While we may gravitate towards the Jesus we see in the Gospels, we may fear the God of the Old Testament. Jesus expresses God’s love and compassion. But in the Old Testament God can seem angry and vindictive. We may feel like we don’t have a cohesive picture of God if we can’t reconcile the apparent contradictions. The Good news is that Jesus isn’t the good cop to the Father’s bad cop. God is Christlike. When we see Jesus, we see who God is and who he has always been.
What do we do with the angry God of the Old Testament? God is taking a group of people from a very different place and moving them towards his highest ideals. The Old Testament laws that permit or command misogyny, slavery and genocide aren’t God’s final word. They represent God getting his hands dirty to come to the rescue of his people in very dark places. If the Old Testament God sometimes smells of excrement, it’s because he climbed down into the sewer to rescue his people. We see Jesus calling his people to move beyond the law and to embody the character of God, the God who sends rain on the deserving and undeserving. If we believe that Jesus perfectly represents God, then our faith will make us more like him, and not the angry, vengeful God whose image can too often shape Christians.
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