It is in imitating Jesus that we honor the attitude of God the Father.
Why is it important for us to consider the question of God’s attitude toward us and creation? Because to know God’s attitude is to know what he thinks about us and, by extension then, how he wants us to live in this world.
Philippians 2: 5-11 teaches us a great deal about the attitude of God who, “Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” And how are we to respond to this attitude? “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What would make God do this for us? Only his infinite and eternal love for us. The Incarnation and the Cross was a perfect act of love. Both were acts of complete and total self-giving for the good of others, meaning all of us. He did this then and still does today, even though we had gone and continue to go astray. God’s attitude toward us is nothing less than perfect love. As John the evangelist tells us in 1 John 4:16-19, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” We are called on to develop this Godly attitude as Christians. To develop this kind of love in this world requires great courage and even greater humility. But we are not alone in this. God is with us in His Holy Spirit. We can be confident that with his help, we can be the people he wants us to be.
This world is opposed to this kind of love. We see that in the horrors of the unjust wars that are so evidently with us today. We see it in countless other injustices that are the result of human choices made out of hate, or greed, or selfishness. And we can legitimately ask: Does God hate the unjust? No. But he hates injustice. Does God hate the sinner? No. But he hates the sin. His sacrifice on the Cross proves this. But here is the kicker for all of us who call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus Christ; he tells us very directly that we must do the same. He says, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). And when he taught the disciples to pray he taught them to say: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4). This is the attitude of God and it is the attitude that we are called to emulate in our own lives as Christians.
To put it another way, we are challenged to love our way out of the hell that threatens us every day. In order to do this we must pick up our crosses, that is, when called upon, we must be willing to suffer as he did, for the good of others. The world constantly whispers things like this into our ears: “Look out for # 1”; or, “Hate your enemies”; or, “Do unto others before they can do anything to you”; or, “Greed is good.” But the attitude of God, modeled in Jesus, tells us something very different. In the attitude of God, we must learn more and more to put the good of others first. After all, God sent his Son into the depths of our suffering. He enters into it with all of us still today and thereby sanctifies us. It is in imitating Jesus that we honor the attitude of God the Father.
Lord, we pray for the graces we need to be able to walk in your ways this day, and all those yet to come.