Unraveling His Heart: Crucified Love
Colossians 1:15-16 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
John 14:7 ESV
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
What is the ultimate goal of the Christian life? What is our aim or our ultimate directive? To some, the goal centers around our behavior and our lifestyle. The goal is thus found in living in a way that viciously opposes sin, and strives to ascend the mountain of the Lord with clean and pure hands (Ps 24:3-4). I find this understanding to be flawed for two reasons: 1) we are already holy (1 Cor 6:11), and 2) we are called to live by faith in the merits of Christ and not in the merits of our works (Rom 3:28). This is not to say that we should’t resist sin and live in a way that honors Christ. Of course we should! But if we make this the goal of Christianity then I think we may have missed something.
Christ says in John 17:3, “In this is eternal life, that they may know you the one true God and Jesus the Christ whom you have sent.” The word for know here in Greek is the word γινώσκω (Ghinosko), which means to know through personal experience, to know experientially and thus thoroughly. Our faith in Christ has given us life eternal. This eternal life is then described by Christ as consisting of intimate and firsthand knowledge of God. The promise and the gift given to us in Christ is expressed in the sacredness of divine intimacy. We are to know Him. Paul prays for the Ephesian church in accord with this ultimate directive, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” Our main purpose as His children is to know Him. We are to experience Him, and become familiar with His heart and His ways.
We begin this journey, this eternal trek into depths of divine intimacy, by first seeing God in perfect clarity through the crucified Christ. Christ is the “image of the invisible God” meaning that in Christ we see the heart of God wrapped in humanity. The cross screams at us in varying volumes and frequencies, revealing a complete portrait of God and His nature. We see in Christ crucified a God willing to allow His precious ones to fix Him to a tree in order to free them from the punishment of their many sins. We see love reaching out and dying for those who have made Him their enemy. We see a God who is willing to go through whatever it takes to embrace those who gnaw, bite, and claw their way to self-destruction. In short, we see in the bloodshed on Calvary what love really looks like. In the face of this staggering reality we are then challenged to either embrace it, or run from it.
Everything we could ever want to know about God is found in the horrors of the cross. We see His compassion for us, His love, and His willingness to lay down everything for us. We see a Father willing to carry the ugliness of our fallenness. We see a God who is devoted to us, committed to us to the point of blood and death. We see mercy and tenderness. We see courage, boldness, and a God who is willing to literally lay everything on the line, even though many will simply spit in His face and leap headlong into the fires of their own hell.
The entire Bible centers around this single event in history. The Old Testament anticipated it, while the New Testament points back to it. God revealed Himself as best as He could to the Israelites in the Old Testament, but as humans, we can only understand in accordance with what we have come to know. They only caught glimpses here and there. Seeing only in shadows and types. But in Christ God was able to show Himself in perfection, and no where do we see Him more clearly than in the brutality of Calvary.
Our purpose, our main directive as children of God, is to simply know our Father. We can only begin to truly understand Him as we start to see Him in His crucified love. We must add to this revelatory understanding personal experience. We must seek to experience Him for ourselves. After all, that is why He paid such a high price! We can no longer simply pour ourselves over the pages of the Bible and pretend like this is relationship. We must brave intimacy, vulnerability, and trust. We must seek His face, and invite the rays of His affection to illuminate our hearts. We must become a people of the cross and a people of His presence. A people of meditation and a people of prayer. This is the call of the Christian and the cry of our most inner depths. It is through grasping at this glorious truth of the crucified God, and experiencing this God for ourselves that we truly begin to enter into the quality of life that He died to give us.