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Looking at the Heart of God

"What is the issue that haunts the prophet's soul? It is not a question, but a bitter exclamation: How marvelous is the world that God has created! And how horrible is the world that man has made!" - Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

This past Sunday some of us ventured through the passion of Jesus Christ. We have been studying Mark's Gospel, and we entered those final scenes leading up to Jesus crucifixion and death.

We talked a great deal about irony - irony being a dissonance or difference between what should be and what is. In this case, the tragic irony of Jesus' humiliation, crucifixion and death is that the religious leaders who should have been the first to herald him as King where the very ones who initiated his humiliation. There is more. There is irony in the way the religious leaders and powerful soldiers mocked and stripped Jesus - cruelly doing the exact opposite of what Jesus deserves. There is the irony that Jesus - the Way, the Truth and the Life - was publicly pronounced to be the way of death and treachery, the lie that was undermining the people and - finally - the rightful heir of death.

How sad. The chasm between reality and our perception is sometimes all too ironic and tragic.

I also spent time reading Heschel's great work on the life of the prophets last week, particularly the life of Isaiah. I was struck by the quote at the top of this post. The quote shows that the prophet's vision is filled with utter dismay. For a prophet sees correctly that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

And ... yet, a prophet also sees that things are terribly amiss. That for all intents and purposes the world operates largely without God.

Do you know what this made me realize? It made me realize that God's heart is absolutely broken over the state of our world. Heschel says that God has an intimate pathos, a deep suffering and care for creation - driven to varying degrees of hurt, anger and hope. And Heschel points to Isaiah's language, which tells us that God is a father who feels that his children have run away from him.

It is incredibly important to remember that God is fully involved with us - including emotionally. It is all too easy to suspect that God does not feel the same emotions we feel: love, jealousy, anger, betrayal, sorrow. The truth is God feels them even more than we do. Infinitely more than we do because the Lord's emotions are always righteous and true and the Lord is always and fully aware.

So when we look at the heart of God we see nothing short of loving pain and longing for reconciliation. We see the epitome of love and faith and hope. For God continues to live into the irony of our world: a world completely dependent upon God's grace and goodness but a world that operates so frequently as if God did not exist, let alone care.

Do you know what is amazing to me? God continues to love and seek my welfare. God cares and feels for me even when I am careless.

That's grace.

Wes

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