Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reflection: To a people who had been broken and conquered, these words of restoration must have sounded like a wonderful, but distant, dream. Two elements of this prophecy that stand out as I read these words are the promise that God will live with God’s people – a promise fulfilled in Jesus – and that God delights in people. The words are celebratory and passionate, and they indicate that God’s love is not some cold, vague, sense of wanting our good in the end. Rather, God’s love is vibrant, involved and radically powerful. When we hold this against the truth that every judgment that is mentioned in Scripture is brought on to people by themselves, that there were always lots of warnings before the fact, and that the judgments were pretty much always simply the consequences of their short-sighted actions, we can begin to let go of any image of God as an angry deity waiting to destroy us all when we mess up.
Jesus said that, if we want to know what God is like, we have only to look at Jesus. Jesus – in his message and mission, his character and behavior, shows us the truth about God and the picture is one of infinite, creative grace and love and welcome. In these last few days before Christmas, we have a wonderful opportunity to remember and celebrate this.
What is your most powerful picture of God? Does it match the God that Jesus reveals in the Gospels? How does your view of God impact your worship, your faith and your life? How does it change things to realize that God delights in and celebrates you? Spend today reminding yourself of this amazing truth!
Prayer: Forgive me, God when I hold on to ideas about you that are unworthy of you – when I think of you as an angry old man on a cloud waiting to punish me when I make a mistake. Please show me how to let Jesus define the way I see you, and please keep reminding me that you delight in me. Of course, this also means that you delight in others, too. Please keep reminding me of that and help me to see what it is in other people that brings you such joy. Amen.