Since the beginnings of Christian theology, people have recognized the tension between some of the violent portraits of God in the Old Testament versus the revelation of God in Christ.
We like to pretend that these views are not contradictory. We’ve created a dance of fancy theological footwork to merge the image of violence with the image of peace. We try to say it’s not “contradiction”, and use words like “paradox” and “mystery” instead. We say things like “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
All the while, we know it doesn’t add up. The reality is that we see two opposing portraits of God in the scriptures: a violent God of wrath slaughtering his enemies and commanding his people to do the same, and Jesus… saying his Father is kind to the ungrateful and wicked, saying he loves his enemies and commanding us to do the same.
While I can’t claim to perfectly resolve this dilemma, my goal today is to provide a compelling case for why Jesus is, as Paul describes, “the image of the invisible God,” and THE standard by which all other images of God must be held accountable.