When a child is afraid of his or her own father it’s an indication of serious abuse. Sadly, the “fear of the Lord” looks more like “afraid of God” for many Jesus-loving Christians.
This is part five of my Easter series, “Jesus Christ: Savior of the World.” We’ve finished looking at what the New Testament calls “the world.” Now we’re ready to look at the second question, “What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World?”
Getting God’s face painted rightly
It’s interesting to me that whenever I talk about the love of God, I get such a strong pushback from some. “You’ve got to balance that out, brother. What about His justice and wr-r-r-r-ath!!! But why can’t we just believe that God is love? Why can’t we believe that true justice is found in showing mercy and compassion? (Zech. 7:9)
Part of this need to balance God out comes from reading the Bible indiscriminately, as if Jesus never happened, from not understanding God’s true nature through the lens of Jesus’ life and teachings.
It could also be we’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome with what has held us captive for so long, so it’s hard to give up our angry god. But the problem is, this creates anxiety in the deepest part of our soul. We’re like abused children, wanting the love of a parent but keeping our distance. While the door is open and we’re free to embrace His life fully, we stay locked up in our own prison of fear and myopic disbelief.
We saw last time that when Adam and Eve ate from the wrong Tree, they got a wrong view of God. I’ve also written about this at length in my series, “God So Loved.” The early church fathers saw that Jesus didn’t come to save us from God but to save us from ourselves. His mission was to heal us from the corruption and alienation that entered into the world through Adam.
This is what Athanasius (298 -373 AD) said in his work, On The Incarnation, about God’s predicament with us:
Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death…
It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption….what then was God, being Good, to do? Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them? (Ch.1:5, 6)
I shared in “Incarnation is about restoration” that God needed to deconstruct our Adamic orphan mindset about God, which He did in the “face of Jesus Christ.”
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.4:6 *)
There’s always a reason for saving something. During World War II we saved rubber and scrap metal for the war effort. Did Jesus only save us to solve a sin problem? As C. Baxter Kruger has said, “We’ve got God ‘up there’ and Jesus who does something to make it okay; now we’re left with a Book?” Is that what this is about? I certainly hope that’s not all!
The best answer I can come up with is that Jesus saved us from “this world” (fallen construct) for divine fellowship! Notice how Peter puts it:
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Pet.1:4 *)
First, if you didn’t know already, you should know which “world” Peter is talking about now. It’s the fallen societal construct. We’ve also seen that this “corruption” comes from eating from the wrong Tree. And we’ve defined “lust” as the opposite of other-centered, self-giving love. It objectifies others for its own self-gratification.
Second, the reason we were freed from our captivity is so we “may be partakers of the divine nature.” It’s not just so you can go to heaven when you die. It’s so that you can join in this Divine Dance! Look at John’s invitation in the introduction of his first epistle:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4 *)
Beloved, Jesus didn’t come to appease an angry God; He came on behalf of loving Father to rescue His kids who were enslaved and abused! And He rescued us so that we could be included in the Circle of Love that the Father and the Son have enjoyed from before the foundation of the kosmos.
Jesus makes it clear that this is not for heaven only, but for this life, saying “that the world may believe (know)” twice in the following:
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:21-24 *)
Jesus saved us so we could en-joy His relationship with the Father in the Spirit…now, tomorrow, and forever. And then our light will burn bright in the world and they will know that He loves them the same.
We will continue next time.