Some years back, a Jesuit friend of mine explained the historical significance of stained glass windows in churches.
Many of the cultures which the Catholic missionaries met, were not literate, especially in Latin. The stained-glass windows were beautiful and attracted attention and discussion, and allowed the priests of the churches to explain the stories described in those windows. The beauty of the windows only accentuated the message, he said.
I was thinking this week about the images of Christ we see. He gets a lot of publicity, but when you think about it, Jesus is always seen as gentle, loving, ful of forbearance. Basically, one gets the idea from the movies, pictures, and books, that Jesus forgives everyone for everything, pretty much to the point that those who do evil have nothing to fear - a few ‘mea culpas’ and you’re cool, right?
Not at all. If you read the Bible, you see another Jesus, the one whose Holy person does not condone sin, and whose patience has limits. Consider these verses:
“That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” Zephaniah 1:15
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evil-doer will be stubble, and that day is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 4:1
“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13b
“I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” Matthew 10:15
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 (cf Mark 9:42)
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnasking ot teeth.’ “ Matthew 22:13
“Such men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40b
“Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter’. He treads the winepress of the fury of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” Revelation 19:15-16
Read the darker parts of Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel sometime, and you’ll see confirmation on a larger scale, and to even greater degree. There is a point at which God Himself says “Enough!”, and works His wrath.
I think we ought to see a few portraits of the Angry Christ, to warn people while there is still time. It sure seems that most people are unaware that the Lord is Just. And angry.