I feel like a stuck record these days …
It seems that the only thing God continues to press into my mind is a single answer to this question; “Who is God and what is He like?”
It seems simple enough, but this is something that has been causing me all sorts of fits trying to wrap my head around. If God is like Jesus, what does that mean for me? If Jesus reveals the Father (as John says frequently) and as a disciple of his I am to be like him, what should my life look like?
And ultimately, the questions lead me to astonishment —- there’s no way God could truly be like that could he?
It is with this background that the following excerpt from a book I am reading about repentance, grace and parables hit me this week:
At their heart the parables are about a Mystery of Grace that makes mincemeat out of plausibility … Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe … pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears. (…)
True repentance leads only to the conclusion that the time for the repair of one’s life is over and gone and that one is in need not of a physician but of an embalmer – or … unthinkably, or someone who can raise the dead … Confession is not the first step on the road to recovery; it is the last step in the displaying of a corpse … Confession is the admission of death (…)
Grace uses no sticks and no carrots. It just dies for our life … our joy comes by another’s blood, and from wounds we open all our lives (…)
Parables are told only because they are true, not because the actions of the characters in them can be recommended for imitation. Good Samaritans are regularly sued. Fathers who give parties for wayward sons are rightly rebuked. Employers who pay equal wages for unequal work have labour-relations problems. And any Shepherd who makes a practice of leaving ninety-nine sheep to chase after a lost one quickly goes out of the sheep-ranching business.
The parables are true only because they are like what God is like, not because they are models for us to copy. It is simply a fact that the one thing we dare not under any circumstances imitate is the only thing that can save us. The parables are, one and all, about the foolishness by which Grace raises the dead. They apply to no sensible process at all – only to the divine insanity that brings everything out of nothing.
Who is God and what is He like?