Thursday, 22 November 2018

Utterly Lovely

There’s a famous hymn which goes: “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” It’s the kind of Christian hymn that I was brought up on. It presents God as a being of unreachable grandeur - a God who is beyond understanding, beyond human reach; who is to be feared.
At the same time, as I grew up, I was reminded every Sunday that this unimaginable God expected me to love him, first and foremost, above all else. It presented me with a problem: this all powerful, all knowing and ever living God did not seem very lovable. He was frightening. How unfair that he should command me to love him!
Jesus didn’t have this problem.
Jesus didn’t have this problem because he knew a very different kind of God. Jesus knew God to be like a doting father who, when his wayward son had gone astray and got into trouble, looked longingly for his return every day, and then ran down the road in expansive delight when the young man finally returned, showering him with gifts. Jesus knew God to be like an excited woman who threw a party for her neighbours just because she’d found a coin she’d been looking for all day.
Jesus didn’t know God as a being that is ‘unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, and ruling in might.’ He knew God as the kind of person who gives big hugs and throws impromptu parties, who wears his heart on his sleeve and forgives huge offences in the blink of an eye.
Jesus knew God to be thoroughly lovable.
Underlying all Jesus’ teaching is a confident knowledge that God is utterly lovely. Once we grasp that fact, loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength isn’t so daunting a prospect.

Just published:
by Robert Harrison
the life and loves of a disciple of Jesus

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