“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?’ ” (John 14:9).
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR CONCEPT OF GOD. What we think of our Creator — both His character and His will — is the principal force that shapes our lives. Since ideas have consequences, the bigger the subject, the more our ideas need to be true. There being no bigger subject than God, we should be extremely careful. In the end, the way we have lived will have been the outworking of our real (not our pretended) beliefs about God.
When Jesus said that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), He had more in mind than just the truth about God’s plan of salvation. I believe He meant, first and foremost, the truth about God Himself. The path that He has designed for our redemption must be accepted (untruths about God’s plan are deadly), but out of all the errors that must be corrected, none are more crucial than wrong ideas about God. The problem of sin arose when we started acting on the basis of falsehoods about Him, and if the problem is to be fixed, those falsehoods must be rooted out of our thinking.
So let me ask you a practical question: what do you think about the “love of God”? And more importantly, where did you get those ideas? Most of us have some concept of what love is and how it behaves, but unfortunately those notions have often been picked up from pop psychology, pop theology, and even pop culture. Rather than letting our definition of love be formed by God, we imagine love as the world has taught us to see it, and we then transfer that shallow, sentimental view to God. Even when we flatter ourselves that we’ve gone beyond the worldly view to an understanding of “unconditional” love, we are still limited by the world’s concept of what love would actually do in specific situations. Clearly, our minds are still fettered by a good bit of untruth.
Nothing about Jesus was more revolutionary than His exemplification of love. If we take all of what He did (and not just our favorite parts), even our most “advanced” ideas about love will be disrupted. It will be a disturbing, and truly liberating, experience.
“The Christian does not understand God in terms of love; he understands love in terms of God as seen in Christ” (Joseph Fletcher).