This is a question people often ask: What is God really like?
And, often when push comes to shove, even though we hear of God’s grace and love, we often fall back on a view of God as primarily angry, wrathful and vengeful. This idea of God as full of rage and wrath lingers in our theology, and it nags at the back of our minds.
Which is why I think we need to get something crystal clear: God looks exactly like Jesus.
Or, putting it another way, Jesus fully and absolutely reveals God. And what Jesus reveals isn’t a God full or rage and anger, but a God full of love. This is what is seen pre-eminently on the cross. Here Jesus doesn’t punish and exact vengeance on others, but takes on our punishment and what we rightfully deserve.
So what Jesus reveals is that at God’s core is love, even when we are tempted to believe its something else.
And, if this sounds, well, controversial or a little worrisome to you, that itself highlights the issue. We have been so influenced by a view of God that doesn’t look like Jesus, that we need to regain the only orthodox view of God that there is: Jesus fully reveals God.
Thomas Torrance puts it this way…
“Is God really like Jesus? Questions like that gnaw at the back of people’s minds but which they suppress and which come to the surface only in moments of sharp crisis and hurt, tell us of the insidious damage done to people’s faith by dualist habits of thought which drive a wedge between Jesus and God.
“Fearful anxiety arises in the human hearts when people cannot connect Jesus up in their faith or understanding with the ultimate Being of God, for then the ultimate Being of God can be to them only a dark, inscrutable, arbitrary Deity whom they inevitably think of with terror for their guilty conscience and makes them paint harsh, angry streaks upon his face.
“It is quite different when the face of Jesus is identical with the face of God.”
And, I think that’s true. Our view of God is not only better, but truer and more whole when the face of Jesus is identical with the face of God.
So, today I write this as both a challenge and invitation: A challenge to see God as identical with Jesus, and an invitation to change your view of God so that it looks completely like Jesus. Because, the Father doesn’t have harsh, angry or rage filled streaks on his face. His face is identical to Jesus, streaked with tears and love.