The portrait above is known as Christ Pantokrator of Sinai, also known as the Sinai Christ. It was thought to have been commissioned by the Emperor Justinian for St. Catherine’s monestary. I first saw this painting in university during a class on the history of Christianity, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Now I’ve never published a post centered around a picture before, so here we go.
God is Love
I hear so many Christians today throwing these three words around and I often wonder if we really understand what we’re saying? Obviously God is love, otherwise there would be no Chrsitianity. We’d have no Christ to save us from our sins; all we would have would be the punishment we deserve, but why don’t we talk about that? I know it’s not popular because nobody wants to be told they’re wrong but truth be told, we’re wrong.
As I have watched the depravity of the world in general and the United States in particular over the last few months, I have realized that we have made ourselves out to be god. We do what seems right to us and fail to realize that we are miserable because we’re worshiping ourselves instead of Him! God is love, but He is also just. To try to separate these two truths is to fall into the heresy of the divided Christ theology.
A Balance, or Something Else?
I appreciated my pastor today speaking to this and he went on to point out, rightfully, that the Church today focuses too much on God’s love and not enough on His justice. Likewise he noted that in the past the Church focused too much on His justice and not enough on His love. So there needs to be a balance… right?
I’d venture to say no. It’s not a balance, it’s something else. Something complicated. Something that our fallen brains probably can’t fully handle. I posted the Sinai Christ because it paints a portrait of a complicated truth. When first glancing at the portrait it looks a little off, but no more than art from that time. However if you look closely, it’s intentionally designed to reflect the dual nature of Jesus. The left side is much gentler, reflecting Jesus’ incarnation, and the right is stern, reflecting His exultation. In the same way the portrait shows us the dual nature of Jesus’ existence, it also speaks to his dual nature of being loving and just. It’s not an either-or, but rather a both-and.
I know that this seems like a minor issue, but truly it sets up the foundation of how we see and interact with God. It defines our level of faithfulness to Him, and it sets the basis by which we can gain a greater understanding of the gospel message.