God’s New Publicists

John 14:1-14

Christians are God’s new publicists—or they are supposed to be. Unfortunately, they tend to promote a God of the Old Testament. It’s a nice gesture toward the faith of the Jewish tradition. But any depiction of the nature of God as something other than or in addition to Jesus is less than Christian.

picture painted by Harold DeFordLet me explain what I mean…first by quoting Luke’s story of the first martyr, Stephen, as recorded in the book of Acts (7:55). “But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into the heavens and saw the manifestation of God, indeed, Jesus, standing at the right hand of God.”

That’s two words different  from the NRSV version. “Manifestation” is another option for the Greek word “glory.” And “indeed” is an option that comes from the Greek word that is usually translated as “and.”

My version complies with the apostle Paul when he describes Jesus as the image of the invisible God. . .For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:15, 19).

You can see other text proofs at my post on Monday.

Jesus is the fullness of God in human form. He is the completely matured, fully developed form of what we all are trying to reach. Jesus himself said in John’s witness in the gospel text for this week, [Jesus said] “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b).

Stephen was getting close to that image himself. His last words were the same as Jesus’s words on the cross, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

That’s very God-like. That’s very Christ-like. And the religious folks killed him.

What image of God you are sharing with the world? Is it good news? Have you tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3)? Are you including bits and pieces of Jewish tradition that portrayed God in ways that Jesus would never have acted?

It’s a question every Christian should ask herself/himself. If God were seeking a new publicist, would you be hired?

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