Skip to main content

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.



Popular posts from this blog

Acts 3:11-21 - Questions for Reflection & Prayer

This week we continued looking at the story of Peter and John healing a lame man on their way to the Temple (Acts 3).  Indwelled with the Spirit of the Living God, Peter and John are close to the source of all life:  Jesus the Christ.  They are continuing to devote themselves to the habits and practices that will allow the fruits of the Spirit to grow within them, including devoting themselves to times of communal prayer on a daily basis.

Now, the crowds hear this news of the lame man's healing, and they run to see this man and to discover what power or technique has healed the man.  They discover the man standing next to Peter and John and assume that these two are "holy men," something many people were searching for in Jesus' day.  This same search still goes on today.  One way we seek a better life is to seek out celebrities, gurus and human leaders that we can put our faith and hope in.

Question for reflection:  How are we tempted in our culture to put our trust i…

Acts 2:42-47 - Questions for Reflection & Study

This past Sunday, we took a look at Luke's first summary passage in the story of Acts:  chapter 2, verses 42-47.  Here, Luke is presenting a billboard of what the Church looks like at its best.  He is trying to convince Theophilus that Christianity is worth his attention. 

The early Church captures what all of us are looking for, whether we know it or not.  This is a close community that truly cares for one another, where everyone truly is seen as a brother and sister, and where no one person is considered more or less important as the other.  Needs are being met.  There is joy in their fellowship. 

Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you experienced the joy and blessing of a deep, loving community?  Where was it, and what made this community so different?  What role did you play in this community?
Luke tells us the disciples "devoted themselves" to four essential practices.  The Greek word for "devoted" is one that is often used in the context…

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…