Changing our minds about God, part one
Repentance or changing our minds thus changing our actions because all actions begin in the mind and flow out of our beliefs. Beliefs are nothing more than a bunch of ideas joined into a system which we then identify with as our own self. We identify ourselves as what we believe and use those beliefs to justify our actions. These belief systems are like computer programs inserted onto hard drives. This programming started for us from the time of our birth—some religious traditions teach many of them are part of our karmic inheritance—but in this life they are placed there by our parents who funnel societies systems into our minds via education at home and on and on through out our formal institutional educational system.
One of those systems is our belief about God. Whether he/she exists or not and if God exist what kind of God is he or a she or an it. Whether God is considered a he or a she or a composite of both is a small example of the system we have been taught.
A.W. Tozer writes in Knowledge of the Holy:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
There have been many ideas of why Jesus came into the human race, some of them are: saving humanity, conquering demons, healing the sick ending our suffering, demonstrating how to be really human and God like, all of these I consider to be parts of his mission in the process of our regeneration. However none of these has any meaning unless we know who God truly is. And I think this is the main reason Jesus entered the world. He really wants us to know the Father and many times he lets us know that by looking at him we can know exactly what God is like.
Jesus is quoted as saying. “If you have seen me you have seen the Father. “In Jesus’ mission statement—his gospel [good news]—in Luke 4.18-19 he quotes Isaiah 61:1-2
1. The Spirit of the Lord God
has taken control of me!
The Lord has chosen and sent me
to tell the oppressed
the good news,
to heal the brokenhearted,
and to announce freedom
for prisoners and captives.
2 This is the year
when the Lord God
will show kindness to us
and punish our enemies.
The Lord has sent me
to comfort those who mourn,
18 “The Lord’s Spirit
has come to me,
because he has chosen me
to tell the good news
to the poor.
The Lord has sent me
to announce freedom
to give sight to the blind,
to free everyone
19 and to say, ‘This is the year
the Lord has chosen.’”
You will have noticed that in Jesus’ version he leaves out the phrase “punishment of His enemies” found in Isaiah 61.2, other translations use vengeance toward God’s enemies, i.e., the enemies of Gods people the Jews and by extension the Christians in later centuries who saw themselves as God’s people and came to believe vengeance would then come upon ALL unbelievers.
Did Jesus leave the phrase, “punish our enemies” out on purpose or was this an oversight on his part.
I believe that Jesus left this phrase out on purpose to show us who and what kind of God his father is. That the God of vengeance as given to us in the Old Testament is in fact NOT a God of vengeance.
That Jesus wants us to model him as well as his father we can see in Matthew 5. 43-48 “You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.”
Now some of the questions that arise are; Was God ever a God of vengeance? If so did he change? If not what’s up in the Old Testament? Does God change? Is God immutable?
More in Part 2