God Looks Like Jesus
We often think that God is angry or exasperated with us. In our minds we imagine him a gray-bearded, toga-wearing, lightning-bolt wielding deity bent on dispensing cosmic justice through divine wrath. Is this the picture of God that you see when you worship, pray, or even sin?
What we imagine when we think about God is important. The image of God we construct in our minds is vital for determining what kind of relationship we have with him. Whether we have a relationship with God founded on love or terror, grace or law, depends in large part on the picture of God we live with in our inner being.
So what does God look like? Is he a baptized Zeus, full of righteous anger and quick to dispense divine punishment? Or does he look like someone else?
In Colossians 1:15, Paul quotes an ancient hymn, the first line of which is this: The Son is the image of the invisible God. The hymn, of course, is about Jesus, and it boldly proclaims that Jesus is the image of God. When we imagine what God is like, therefore, the picture that ought to come to our minds is Jesus.
As Pastor Brian Zahnd has said:
God has always been like Jesus.
There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.
We have not always known what God is like—
But now we do.-Brian Zahnd
Or, as I like to put it, Jesus replaces the God you thought you knew. Whatever you imagine God to be like, he is really like Jesus. Whatever picture you get in your head of God, compare it to the image of Jesus – especially of Jesus on the cross. Everything you know about God has to be relearned in the light of Jesus. At the cross is where we find God. That is where we most clearly perceive him.
Whether we have a relationship with God founded on love or terror, grace or law, depends in large part on the picture of God we live with in our inner being.
Remember this when you worship. Remember this when you pray. Remember this when you sin. Let the image of God in your imagination be replaced with the image of God on the cross, demonstrating the fullness of divine love, proclaiming forgiveness for all humanity’s sins, and bearing the punishment that brings us peace.