During some required reading I found the following illustration. It is a quotation from elsewhere, and I’ve never read the book it comes from (or even heard of its author, unfortunately), but it caught my eye. It’s a well-done look at the idea of propitiation – the act in which Christ turns away the wrath of God from the church.
Here ya go:
I see myself at the Last Judgment, and, as at an earthly trial, my identity has to be established before the proceedings begin. But there is an interruption. The Supreme Judge has hardly put to me the question, “Who are you?” before my satanic accuser breaks in and answers for me, “Who is he, you ask? I will tell you. He is the one who has done such and such, and has failed to do such and such. He has ignored the plight of his neighbors because he himself was always the neighbor. He has been silent when he ought to have confessed. The gifts you have given him have not made him humble but proud.” He goes on for a long time in this strain. But then the counsel for the defense interrupts; he is the exalted Son of God.
“O Father and Judge,” he says, “the prosecutor has spoken the truth. This man has all these things behind him. But the accusation is without substance. For he no longer is what he has behind him.” And although he who sits on the bench knows very well what Christ is saying, for the sake of the audience he asks, “Who is he then if he is no longer what he has behind him?”
To this Christ replies, “He has become my disciple and believed me that you have met him in me and want to be his father, as you are mine. Hence I have canceled his past and nailed the accusation to my cross [Colossians 2:14]. Who is he then, you ask? He is the one who has accepted me and thus gained the right of sonship that you have promised. Look upon him, then, as you look upon me; he is my brother and your son.”
This is the story of our identity.
-Helmut Thielicke in “Being Human…Becoming Human”
All praise to the One who turns away the wrath which would take an eternity to be made complete.