Here’s the thing about the God of Israel. Other gods demanded things of their people. I know plenty of folks have talked about God in these terms too, insinuating that natural disasters are a response by God to punish his people for their wickedness. I totally sympathize with the intuitive ease with which we could naturally assume that a God who has the power would use it in this manner. Haven’t we seen plenty of examples of humans who, once given power, find amazingly creative ways to abuse it? The scriptures provide us with a different framework for God. His character is steady. He is the kind of God you can love with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and not be abused. He’s the God who loves us because he can, not because we’ve figured out how to placate his temper. So when we “Behold the Lamb of God”, this is a Lamb who looks and acts and feels and believes like his daddy; that’s a big deal. And it matters because for those of us who call ourselves children of God through adoption into his family, we are given the responsibility and privilege of learning how to reflect this same character. We reflect the very nature of God in who we look like, how we act, what we feel and believe – again, a big deal.
The story of God invites us to challenge our traditionally held cultural perspectives. Here is one message I am learning as I experience God. It goes like this, paraphrased with great liberty by me! “Hey, kiddos, when I made you, it was all very good. And nothing much has changed. That nasty fruit tasting incident in the garden got you all confused, but listen, none of this is surprising or particularly upsetting to me. What WOULD upset me is if you kids started acting like our relationship was based on anything other than love. You don’t need to play me, hide from me, lie to me, manipulate me. I see you. I see all of you. And I find you quite to my liking, even if on some matters you and I both know – you have blown it!” I get this God. Because this is how I feel about my children and my grandson. I fancy myself as someone who can SEE them and what I SEE I delight in. I study them from a place of wonder and curiosity, appreciation and great affection. Are my kids perfect? No way. They take turns like the rest of us being hot messes. But they delight me. I see beyond the miscues and even the big wins. I see their essence. Or at least I pray this is true. I guess you could say that when the rest of the world has long forgotten their fresh baby aroma, I, their mother/Meme, have not. And if I can love this way, weak mere mortal that I am, how much MORE capacity does God have to love us? His acceptance allows us the relational foundation and wriggle room to see ourselves (and others) honestly. We can work with this.