Lion of the Tribe of Judah or a house cat
I recently read some interesting research about cats led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh Scotland and the Bronx Zoo. It was published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology
It seems like that cute cuddly little cat that loves to crawl on your lap and comfort you has more of the traits of the African Lion, the Scottish Wildcat, and the Clouded and Snow Leopard. In other words that adorable domesticated cat is more like a miniature lion. If it was bigger things might be a lot different.
I couldn’t help but think that this is the same issue when Christians and churches try to make Jesus into the image they prefer Him to be rather than seeing Him as He truly is. In other words Christians take the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” (Rev 4:7, 5:5) and try to reduce Him to a domesticated house cat. It is an attempt to reduce Jesus to an adorable version that climbs on our lap to give us companionship and therapeutic comfort.
Jesus will not submit to this kind of reduction. Check out the first three chapter’s of the book of Revelation when Jesus walks among and speaks to the 7 churches of Asia Minor. He wasn’t a tame house cat He is the Lord of the Universe and the head of His body, the church. Col 1:15-19 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything…
Spiritually Spinning Jesus
I like to read both liberal and conservative news sites because both sides present filtered perspectives and the truth often lies somewhere in between. The common buzzword for this is called “spin.” It seems like everyone reporting now days is spinning. What is “spin”? Spin can be characterized as “presenting an issue in a perspective most favorable to a given point of view. It is created by presenting information favorable to one perspective by omitting or rebutting information from another perspective.”
It would be difficult to be in the public eye in this day and age of 24 hour media spinning. Media workers take sound bites or partial quotes, remove them from their context, then spin to make a point. I have seen this many times. When I go back and read the full transcript or hear the person respond to the articles that were spun, their original communication and intention was not represented at all. Can we spin the revelation of God to ourselves or others in a way that mischaracterizes who He is?
The Bible contains the revelation God gives about Himself that He wants us to know. He reveals both His likes, His dislikes, and His traits that make up who He is. This is what theologians refer to as His “attributes.” Some of them we understand a little because they are in us in an incomplete form (called “communicable attributes” such as love, hate, patience, justice etc.), while others are way beyond us (called “incommunicable attributes” such as sovereignty, foreknowledge, omnipresence etc.).
God warns us about spinning Him. Psa 50:21-22 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes. (22) “Now consider this, you who forget God, Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.
While we bear the image of God He isn’t relegated to the image we want Him to be. He is who He is. We can’t pick one side of God’s image and ignore the other.
His Kindness, Hatred, and Severity
We tend to do this with attributes like God’s great love and mercy. Some view God’s love in a way that nullifies all his other attributes. It is a big mistake to think that God’s love overshadows His holiness. Over and over He reveals Himself in the Bible as Holy. He is the Holy God, and the Spirit is Holy Spirit. Christians can attempt to purge God’s love of anything that we feel uncomfortable with such as holiness, righteousness, or judgment. We can’t redefine His love apart from His other attributes but this is a great problem.
Paul makes this point in Romans in an admonition to have a healthy fear of God. Rom 11:20-22… but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; (21) for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. (22) Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
Many people like His kindness but have no clue about His severity. Therefore they see God as a kind grandfather who is obligated to love them no matter how they live. They see Him as a lonely grandfather, or a house cat, that will harmlessly put up with anything.
Another attribute of God we can bypass in light of His love is His holy hatred. The same God who loves also hates. In a fallen world with an enemy that is opposed to Him, God must hate what is trying to destroy His Kingdom and the object of His love (us). God’s attributes of holiness, purity, righteousness, and justice prompt Him to hate evil.
Heb 1:9 “YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS
Deu 12:31 “You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods.
Pro 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him…
Psa 7:11 God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Psa 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. (5) The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. (6) You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
If God’s love was a trump card that nullified all His other attributes, then the horrors of the sufferings of Christ would make no sense. God could have just pronounced love and forgiveness, and Jesus could have avoided suffering God’s wrath for us, but God’s justice and wrath had to be satisfied.
We must see, serve, and worship God as He is, and how He has revealed Himself in His word. No spinning or attempting to domesticate Jesus to spiritual house cat.
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