Many People Live With the Wrong Image of God
I think many people live with a wrong image of God, distorted image of God and this image of God is very important. What we think about God is very important. Of course, this image is not necessarily explicit image that you have. It’s almost like subconscious that it is underneath. And that image is God is powerful and fearful that is image that we have, God is powerful and fearful. One of the rabbis describes about his congregation member or member of his synagogue. The girl who just went to university first year, one day she just fell and dropped dead and the school did not know how to communicate that to parents, but finally, barely. They called the parents and let them know that your daughter on the way to the class, she kind of collapsed and died.
It was too late for them to do anything. So the parents came and then they didn’t know what to do. They were very disturbed. And then the next time they went to the synagogue and met with this rabbi. And the first thing that they said to the rabbi was, “rabbi at the last Yom Kippur we didn’t fast.” In other words, because they didn’t fast. This tragedy happened. So this kind of a powerful image and fearful image of God we have and depending on what image you have about God, your life is shaped very much depending on what you think every day your life is very much shaped and then all you have is powerful image of God. But to know that God is powerful, you do not need any insight. Even Asian people, they knew that God is powerful. So they all gave sacrifice to appease God.
God is Not Just Powerful, God is Love
So then nothing bad may happen to them. So even Asian people, they knew that God was powerful. They didn’t need any insight about God and people still live with that image. The powerful God image. I’m not saying that God is not powerful, but Jesus came to tell us. Something else about God. He came to show us that God is not just powerful. God is love. That’s what he came to tell us. God is love for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus Christ came to tell us to show us that God is love. This is what 1st John said, beloved, let us love one another because love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God. For God is love. God does not just love. God is love. He claims that God is love and that’s what Jesus Christ came to tell us. Why? Because we don’t know that. I mean he had to come all the way down to us to tell us that God is love because we don’t believe that we don’t have that image within us.
Jesus wanted to restore that understanding of God because we humans beings don’t live with that understanding that God is love. Subconsciously the only image that we have is that God is powerful and scary. This is what Jesus said today. I do not call you servants any longer because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends because I’ve made known to you everything that I have heard from the father that is a radical image of God, God being our friend, but come to think of it, it’s not a new concept that Jesus created. God being a friend. That image is also in the Old Testament. They described the relationship between Moses and God. As friend, relationship, friendship. Exodus 30 3:11 he says, “thus the Lord used to speak to Moses, face to face as one speaks to a friend, so he already in the Old Testament, Moses and God were like friends and God called also Abraham as friends. That’s how Isaiah, saw the relationship between Abraham and God. This is what Isaiah says, Isaiah 41: 8, “but you Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen the offspring of Abraham, my friend, we are God’s friends. That’s what Jesus said. I don’t call you any longer servants. I call you my friend. The fearful God or the fearful God that we thought that fearful God came down to us to be our friend. That is a theology of incarnation that is a core of what incarnation is all about, that God far away who looks at us with fearful, scary eyes and every single move that we make and ready to make judgment upon us. We thought that that is kind of image of God, but then God came down to us and became our friend
God is Your Friend
And that is the understanding of incarnation. God is right here with us talking to us, embracing us and comforting us, but still in our mind. We put God way out there because we are too scared of thinking of God. We are too scared to have God around me. We feel that we are too dirty to have God near me, so as far as possible, I want to get away from God. But when you understand that God is your friend, your whole life changes. When you have this new image of God, your life changes. Your thinking changes. When God becomes our friend, you have the best friend, no other human being can provide that kind of friendship to you. All other friends are not as perfect as God is.
This is what Jesus said. “No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That’s what Jesus did to his friends. He made us his friends and then he laid down his life for us. Do you have that kind of friend? I don’t have the friend who laid down his life for you. That’s the best friend you can ever have. To most of us friends are just friends whom you play with. When you have a hard time, when you go through difficulties and troubles and pain and suffering, they will not last too long, very long. They’ll be there for awhile, but they cannot be with you forever. And they will not lay down their lives for you.
God Chose You as Friends of God
If you have that kind of friend, you’re a lucky one. The wonderful thing about this friendship is that I didn’t choose it. God chose us. John 15, 16 said, you did not choose me, but I chose you. You don’t need to have the fear of rejection because God chose us. Jesus chose prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. We don’t usually choose those people as friends, but Jesus chose them as friends, not because they’re worthy, but because they need friends. They were the social outcast. Nobody wanted to be friends with them. Nobody wanted to be around them so they had no friends in a way that’s why they needed friends Jesus chose them to be friends because they needed friends. That’s how Jesus understands friendship, to be. For us, friends are those who are like me, who can play with me. You may feel you’re not worthy. You may not be that popular. You may not have that charisma to draw people. You may not have attractive qualities but God chose you as friends of God. Rejection hurts, betrayal hurts. Jesus received rejection and betrayal from his friends, but he never rejected them and Jesus never rejects us.
When you start seeing God not as a scary powerful being out there, but as friend, something changes within you, that you will get to know God so intimately, unless God becomes your friend, you cannot know God. You’ll have a lot of concepts of God, but you cannot really intimately understand and know God only when God becomes your friend, you can get to know God very intimately. Jesus said, this is what you just said. “I do not call you servants any longer because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I called you friends because I have made known to you everything that I’ve heard from my father. So when you have that intimate relationship with God, you get to know God very intimately and that’s how your existence become fruitful. As you get to know God intimately, your existence becomes fruitful. In John 15, 16, Jesus said, “and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last so that the father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. The father will give you whatever you do, you ask in Jesus’ name,” and that gives me confidence. Whatever I ask God, God will give me. That gives me tremendous confidence. God will give you what you’re asking for and then you will have that confidence in life
Knowing God is Your Friend Liberates You
And you will love being alone with God, God becomes your most intimate friends. You can say almost anything you want and you need and you’re not scared of being lonely. You are not scared of being alone because you are alone with God. Walk with God you talk with God. You laugh with God. You cry with God. God becomes your best friend. Knowing God, knowing that God is your friend is the most liberating experience you can ever have and you’ll be free from fear. That’s why Jesus said love casts out fear. At the end of today’s scripture, Jesus said, “I’m giving you these commands so that you may love one another as God is a friend to us, be friends to each other. That’s what community is all about. Be a friend. Be a friend to each other. Be Nice to each other, be kind to each other. If you can show your love to each other, being a friend to another human being, that’s the best thing you can do while you live. Be a friend to each other.