The first utterance was, "Forgive them. Father! They don't know what they are doing ". It is much more than loving one's enemies. The prayer for his persecutors is for forgiving and redeeming them with a view to winning them for a good life. And it is recorded that a Roman soldier, standing at the foot of the Cross, and watching Jesus all the time declared, 'Truly he was the Son of God'. This confession is brought out from every one who sees the life, teaching and the death of Jesus. Hence, for the Christian, God is father, forgiving, redeeming and reclaiming the sinners. And this picture of God is directly derived from Jesus.
Thus, in terms of the prophetic religion, which Christianity is, we can say that in the past God who, spoke through the prophets, but revealed His Person through Jesus. Certainly Jesus was not God, but he was revelatory of the Person of God. Jesus was a man, a descendant in the line of King David. By sheer obedience to the Will of God, he could reflect the nature of God. By virtue of his life he evinced the power of God in working miracles and by forgiving the sins of men and women he showed that God is forgiving and redeeming love.
God is Father: Jesus was a Jew and for him God is one and only God. He is the Creator, sustainer and the final judge of all things. But for Jesus, God was essentially a Father who is much more real than the earthly father. Jesus assured all men that God the Father gave whatever he was asked for. Men who seek God find Him and the gates of heaven are opened if they knock at it. He taught to trust God in all things. He told us that our earthly father would not give stone if his children ask for bread, and would not give them snakes if they ask for fish. Jesus had absolute trust in God and His Providence. He declared that God loves and cares for everything in the world.
God is not only the Creator of men but much more than that. He cares for them and Jesus teaches men that they should trust him for everything, provided they seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Hence, the fatherhood of God was much more than the Jewish teaching in the abstract 'Love God with all thy Soul, with all thy heart and with all thy strength'. The Jewish teaching is taken up with far greater warmth of feeling and self-involvement and the intimacy of spirit.
God is Love: God's love means the conquest of good over evil. Conquer hate by not resisting the evil. A Christian has to imitate God and become as perfect as the Father in heaven is, for God sends rains and sunshine to all, good and evil alike. Certainly God hates the sins of men but by His love He teaches men to overcome even the worst of hate. Jesus replied seventy times seven. Jesus him-self forgave the woman who was caught in the very act of committing adultery and said, 'Go, but do not sin again'.
God's love is Redemptive: Redemption means freedom from a bond of debt by the full payment of the promised amount. The full meaning of redemption will be explained in the context of atonement. Here it means that God annuls one's sins and takes him back into His protection and providence. The mark of redemption is that the sinner is transformed into a saint. For example, St. Peter denied his Master thrice. But Jesus forgave him and made him the leader of his followers. The result Peter boldly witnessed the deeds, miracles and the good news about the love of God by describing the life, teaching, death and the resurrection of the Master. Finally, he died as a valiant soldier of the Cross.
Lastly, God's love means service in humility. Jesus illustrated this by the story of a Jew who fell among thieves. Nobody would bandage his wounds, not even a priest and a Levi. But a Samaritan who is hated by the Jews, took pity on the be labored Jew. The Samaritan poured oil on his wounds and bandaged them, and, took him on his ass to an inn and paid for his treatment there. Jesus praised this love of service to a suffering man.
Thus, God for Christianity means Jesus as the full revelation of what God is, God as Father, God as love that forgives, searches for the sinner, redeems him when he repents and turns to him, suffers on account of the sinful men and is willing to pay the highest sacrifice for redeeming them.
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