About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Love In Context - Part 3 

Jesus And The New Testament


Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is the exact representation of God.  So, if you want to attempt to understand who God is, according to the Bible, you must take a serious look at Jesus.  That includes everything He said and did. Don't leave anything out. 


There's no argument that Jesus is the embodiment of love, but to bring balance to the discussion, He is more than love.  If  we simply view Jesus as being the embodiment of love, which I think the book entitled "The Shack" does, then we have a lopsided view of Jesus, and therefore a lopsided view of who God is.     


In John 8:1 to 11 Jesus meets a prostitute.  Did He show godly love to her?  He certainly did.  Did He "tolerate" her sin because He loved her?  No.  He told her to stop sinning.  That's called repentance.  His love for her did not minimize her sin.   


1 John 3:18 says we are to love in "action and truth".   We all understand the need to put our words of love into actions, although that doesn't always happen.  What we don't seem to understand is how to love according to Biblical truth, which is both responsible and intelligent.  Biblical truth places boundaries on how and when we express love.  We don't express love indiscriminately.  Indiscriminant love is both irresponsible and sloppy, and maybe shouldn't even be called love.  That's why Jesus didn't overlook the prostitute's sin.  Jesus cannot minimize sin by crossing the boundary line that God's truth sets down for Him.  This puts love, and especially God's love in proper perspective.     


In Matthew 18:6 Jesus said that if anyone causes a child to sin, he'd be better off with a rock tied around his neck and thrown into the sea to drown.  How can a loving Jesus say such a drastic thing?  The answer is simple.  Jesus expresses love responsibly, based on truth and  justice.  Jesus is the embodiment of love, but He is also the embodiment of justice.  You cannot stress His love to the exclusion of His sense of justice.  Biblical love demands accountability.  Standing on the side of truth is just as important to Jesus as loving one's enemy.  


Does Jesus love His enemies as He tells us we should?  The cross of Christ shows He does, but once again, Jesus' love is balanced by truth and justice.  In Revelation chapter 1 Jesus is portrayed as a mighty man of war who will bring all enemies, all nations on earth to their knees in severe judgment.  This judgment ends in the destruction of the earth as we presently know it, only to be replaced with a new earth.  Some people struggle with this image of God, but I remind you that God seldom thinks and acts like us.  We're lights years apart in that respect. (Isaiah 55:8 - 9)  We tend to tolerate sin.  God doesn't.  We confuse love with tolerance, thinking they're  the same thing when they're not.  God knows the difference.


I envision the various aspects of God on a bar graph.  I think many people see God's love on a bar graph as going right to the top of the graph, while other aspects, like His wrath, only rise slightly from the bottom of the graph.  I don't see it that way.  I see every aspect of who God is rising right to the top of the graph.  God's sense of justice rises to the top of the graph alongside His love.  He is 100% just, and He is 100% love.  He is the Almighty Creator, and He is our loving Father.  Ellul, who is quoted in chapter 6 of  "The Shack"  seems to disagree with me on this point.   


The Almighty Creator God is seen in the first chapter of the Bible.  The Almighty Recreator God is seen in the last chapter of the Bible.  From beginning to end, God is almighty and powerful.  This aspect of God is no less significant than any other aspect of God. I will close this chapter by reminding you of what Paul said in  2 Thessalonians 1:7 through 9.  Paul tells us that Jesus will return to earth in blazing fire to punish with everlasting punishment those who do not obey the truth of the gospel.  There's the word "truth" again.  Truth matters to God, and it should matter to us.  The Almighty Elohim will send Jesus in this blazing fire of judgment to the earth.  Now you tell me, should this aspect of who God is be ignored, or relegated to the back of our minds as "The Shack" suggests?  I don't think so.


I emphasize the almighty nature of God at this point in this series of articles to bring balance to the discussion.  I will speak to God's love later to maintain a proper balance, but once again, "the degree to which we can begin to understand the Almighty Creator God will be the degree to which we can begin to understand and appreciate His love." 


 Next Page

Home Page