June 15, 2014

God in Joseph's image?

On this Father's Day, I'm wondering if–to play with the phrase–we have made God in Joseph's image.

The portrayal of God in Scripture takes a dramatic shift from the Old to New Testament. It's not that God is distant or unloving in the Old Testament–though some may argue this. Rather it's simply that the characters and authors of the New Testament approach God with a greater intimacy. This is seen most distinctly in Mark 14, when Jesus speaks to directly to God as "Abba" meaning "Papa" or "Daddy" in English.

I'm wondering how much of this change in tone has to do with Joseph, Mary's husband. I wonder how much Jesus, the disciples and the early church were impacted by observing how this man raised Jesus and loved his wife, Mary. I wonder how much this shaped their view of God, the Father. Could it be that the New Testament vision of God the Father is shaped by Joseph–this surrogate father of Jesus?

Not only is it feasible that Joseph impacted how the early church thought of the Trinity, what about it's sense of mission? Afterall, the Gospels and Creeds infer that Jesus was only Joseph's child by adoption. And it is following the Gospels that the mission of God's people takes a dramatic turn from focusing on their own chosen-ness to grafting in those outside of their "bloodline." One could argue that Joseph was the first New Testament character to model this with Jesus. Maybe this near silent, selfless character within the Gospels has shaped more than we think, simply by how he lived and loved.

I don't know of anything published about this. If you do, please leave a note letting me know. In any case, there's my thought for this Father's Day. Parenting has forever impacted my understanding of God. And for the better. I will forever read Scripture and relate to God differently because of my kids. For that I am so grateful to them.

So, happy Father's Day to all the dads! Be a father like Joseph. Go where God leads you. Love and care for those God has called you to love.

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