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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A RELATIONAL GOD OF LOVE, PART 1 Featured

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When you think of God, have you ever imagined him as a grumpy grandfather figure in the sky?

There are many people who picture God like this. In fact, there are many distorted images of God we may have.

Here are a few of the ways people imagine God:

An angry Zeus on Mount Olympus hurling his lightning bolts of judgment.

An Unmoved Mover who determines and causes all things.

A Force like in Star Wars – a universal energy field within all things that we can use for good or evil.

A cosmic Santa Claus who gives us the presents we want so long as we’ve not been naughty but nice – and he’s keeping track!

Jesus, however, is the correcting lens by which we clearly and definitively see who God really is.

Jesus said to Philip, one of his twelve disciples, The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me… Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:9-10, 13).

Notice that not only does Jesus give us the revelatory sight of God as our heavenly Father. But Jesus also reveals that he is the Son of God, his Father. Jesus is “in the Father” and “the Father is in” him. This means that both the Father and the Son are God.

Do you suppose the disciples’ heads felt dizzy trying to figure this out? How about yours?

As the Son of God the Father, Jesus is the Word of God – the speaking Voice, the Message, the Reason, the Logic of God (Logos in Greek). Here’s how the apostle John put it at the start of his gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4)

This speaking Voice and Word of God the Father – through whom everything was made – came to us. He got up close and personal to reveal the Father to us and for us.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus definitively reveals who God is because he is God the Son united to our human flesh and blood. As the infinite God, he joined himself to a finite human body. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a young Jewish girl named Mary and was born as a baby over 2,000 years ago.

He came to walk in our shoes and speak to us on our level.

This is why Jesus is called “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). He is “God with us.” God has come in our flesh-and-blood humanity so we may reimagine who is and what he is like.

“No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him.” (John 14:18)

Jesus breaks through all our distorted images of God. As God the Son, he reveals who God the Father is.  This means we can’t look for who God is behind Jesus, apart from Jesus, or in addition to Jesus.

We see God’s character and nature in Jesus.

Not only does Jesus reveal the Father, Jesus is also the bearer of the Holy Spirit of God!

John the Baptizer, who prepared the way for Jesus to come on the scene said, “he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on – he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34)

Or consider these words: “For the one whom God sent speaks God’s words, since he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands.” (John 3:34-35)

So, let’s sum up what we’ve discovered at this point.

Jesus reveals God as our heavenly Father.

Jesus reveals that he is the Son of God his Father.

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit, who comes from God the Father.

One God, but three “persons” – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is what Christians have traditionally called “The Trinity.” God is a Three-in-One and One-in-Three God.

At this point, we may be tempted to think: “Oh yeah, this is the historic, orthodox, Christian doctrine of the Trinity. But it’s all so abstract and has nothing to do with my real life.”

But we would be terribly wrong to think this way.

Yes, there is a deep and holy mystery to this revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But, seeing God in Jesus as a Triune God is all about the light and life he gives us to experience each day!

I’ll give you a clue as to where we’re heading…

God is not a solitary, impersonal, Sovereign separated from us in the heavens.

God is a vibrantly-alive, relational Three-in-One community of mutual self-giving, sacrificial love. And this God includes you and me in the “dance of love” that is revealed in Jesus!

(Stay tuned for more on this theme in next week’s post: A Relational God of Love, Part 2)

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Meet Pastor Chris

  • Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about. While my interests were in art…

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