The Nature of GodDan Doyle
“… None of the crimes he has committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the justice he has shown. Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked—oracle of the Lord God? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?ʺ (Ezekiel 18:21-23)
Too often God is seen as the angry judge, sitting on his throne, judging us from afar. And his judgments are often seen as arbitrary and harsh. Even Christian believers can fall into this trap. This may, though, be more a product of our own guilty consciences than a true reflection of the nature of God. For Christians, it is not sin, but salvation from sin that should be our focus. It is through the recognition of sin, seeing it for what it really is, that we come to understand the meaning of salvation. It was for the forgiveness of our sins that Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world. It is through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that we come to know the true nature of God.
When we recognize our sins for what they really are, we are poised on the still-point of a decision, a decision for life, or for death. If we willfully choose to remain in sin, then we bring God’s righteous judgment down on ourselves and we find only death. On the other hand, if we see that our words, or our deeds, have harmed others, or ourselves; when we feel the true pangs of sorrow for the harm we have caused; when we choose to accept the responsibility for the consequences of that harm; when we willingly choose to turn away from our sins toward the mercy and grace of God, that is when we find God’s joyful forgiveness—and life.
If we want to know the true nature of God, all we have to do is look at Jesus. Jesus showed us the love of the Father in his life, and in his willingness to die for our sins, in order to open the gates of Paradise to us again. In the face and actions of Jesus we see the face and the merciful will of God. Knowing and believing this our sins and our guilts no longer have to be millstones around our necks. It is in their recognition, it is in the sorrow that we experience as a result of them, and in our deep desire to turn away from them, that we can encounter the liberating love of God. When we turn away from our sins and begin to do what is just and right we find life, not death. And, inspired by the Spirit, Ezekiel reveals the true nature of God to us when he writes: ʺDo I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?ʺ
God’s true nature, then, is love. ʺBeloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; every one who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.ʺ Let us, then, recognize our sins and turn away from them toward God who is love. This is the way back into life.