Much of Christian history has manifested a very different god than the one Jesus revealed and represented. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but this “cultural” god sure doesn’t. Jesus tells us to forgive “seventy times seven” times, but this god doesn’t. Instead, this god burns people for all eternity.
Jesus was precisely the “once and for all” (Hebrews 7: 27) sacrifice given to reveal the lie and absurdity of the very notion and necessity of “sacrificial” religion itself. Heroic sacrifices to earn God’s love are over! That’s much of the point of Hebrews 10 if you are willing to read it with new eyes.
This is God’s unimaginable restorative justice. God does not love you if and when you change. God loves you so that you can change. That is the true storyline of the Gospel.
Western culture has become all about the self, and that is just way too small an agenda. The very self that Jesus said “must die” is now just about all that we think about!
The real moral goals of the Gospel—loving enemies, caring for the powerless, overlooking personal offenses, living simply, eschewing riches—can only be achieved through surrender and participation.
We know God by participation in God, not by trying to please God from afar.