The CHRISTIAN PARADIGM of GOD: "You have ravished My heart, My sister, My spouse (bride); You have ravished My heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, My sister, My spouse! How much better than wine is your love…" (Song 4:9-10c)
In his studies in the Song of Solomon entitled "Progression of Holy Passion" Mike Bickle has categorized the Christian paradigm of God using the above passage. According to him, the Christian paradigm of God is founded on the revelation of God’s deep emotions of love. The revelation of God as a tender Father and a passionate Bridegroom was a new idea in religious history during the first century.
In Jewish tradition, what was most emphasized about God was that He is holy in the sense of being totally separate from sin. They did not think of a holy God as sharing human experience. They thought of God as incapable of sharing it simply because He is God. In other words, they saw God as being “above” sharing the human dilemma by the very definition of being God.
The Greek philosophers saw God as emotionally distant from humans. The most prominent Greek thinkers were the Stoics. They saw the main attribute of God as being apatheia, by which they meant God's inability to feel anything. They reasoned that if God felt something then He might be influenced or even controlled by what He felt. They argued that those who felt sorrow or joy were vulnerable to being hurt and thus controlled by those they had feelings for. They believed that anyone who affected God's emotions would be greater than God for that moment.
The Epicureans (a school of Greek philosophy) believed that the gods lived detached in eternal bliss. They lived in the intermediate world and thus, were not aware of events occurring on earth. They were therefore, totally detached from human affairs as they lived in great happiness.
Thus, the Jews understood God as a holy God separated from humans; the Stoics a god without any feelings; the Epicureans a detached god. In to this context of religious thought came the totally new idea of the Christian God who deliberately subjected Himself to human emotion, pain and weakness. Jesus Christ came as the One who embraced human experience and was therefore, sympathetic. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Heb. 4:15)
It was inconceivable to the religious mindset of the first century that a holy God would have capacity for tenderness, sympathy and affection – one who even wrapped Himself in the garments of humanity and then experienced God’s wrath on a cross. The capacity to deeply love is unique to the human spirit. This capacity for agape love brings us to unimaginable heights in God’s glory – we need to love God and others with that kind of sacrificial love that God has already loved us!
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (Romans 5:6-9)