Do we think of God as one who likes to “haul sinners over the coals”? Do we think of the Lord as one who likes to list our sins for us and force us to “eat humble pie”? How we see God’s character will deter- mine how we reveal God to others, so what kind of a picture of God are we communicating to people? Is “our God” always angry, never truly satisfied, constantly carping and criticizing, or is he the gracious and amazingly merciful God of these parables? To bring this ques- tion down to the daily reality of our lives: how do our children see God in us, and hear about God from us? How do unbelievers in our workplace, school, or neighborhood see and hear about God through us? In our lives, are we communicating a portrait of a truly gracious God? Or are we communicating a portrait of our heavenly Father as a slave master?
This past year one of my students shared in class a most painful story about his son putting a gun in his own mouth and threatening to blow off his head. He said with tears that he had failed as a father to communicate graciousness to his son in the demands he made and in the way he treated him. Many fathers are like this. I will never forget one of my sons saying to me, “Dad, what have you got against me?” His words shocked me deeply, and I said to him with tears, “Son, I have nothing against you. I love you!” I couldn’t believe I had made him feel that I was unhappy with him, or dissatisfied with who he was. We need to remember that no one has ever seen God; what they know of God’s love is what they see in us. So, again, what are people learning about the character of God from our lives?
- Jerram Barrs, Learning Evangelism from Jesus, p. 122, 123