Friday, February 22, 2013

What Is God Like?

My image of God has gone through transformation recently. Primarily, this transformation has been based on what Jesus said about God and Himself. Also, it has been based on what the rest of the New Testament says about Jesus. This transformation of my image of God is based on Scripture and I'm disappointed that I haven't grasped what the Scripture says before. I believe that I have a LONG way to go to mature in this view, but I recently had a breakthrough when reading the book of John.

I honestly admit that I have a difficult time imagining God. God seems abstract to me and always has. When I'm honest, even the concept seems nebulous. A being that exists beyond space-time? Space-time is all that I really know. I don't really like not being able to understand or describe concepts. I'm an engineer by education and by choice. I analyze data to find precise answers. I work better with the concrete. I need specific definitions. I prefer discrete to mysterious, and the Bible sometimes presents God as mysterious. I prefer homogeneous to paradoxical and the Bible offers paradoxical portraits of God. I struggle to understand and reconcile and accept this.

Most everything else that I know and I am familiar with, I can describe with words or symbols. I can describe my house. I can describe my car. I can even describe things that I can't see, like electricity or wind. I can describe how to solve a math problem or how to build a voice or data network. I can even describe more abstract things. For example, I can describe my emotions. I can describe happiness, sadness, anger, calmness, love and hate. But I struggle to describe God and I always have.

Who is God? What does He do? How does He treat people? How does He use His power? What does He want to tell us? What does He want from us?

Then, it hit me. Why am I so obtuse? Why am I so slow to learn?
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." 
John 8:19  If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.
John 10:30  I and the Father are One.
John 12:45 The one who looks at Me is seeing the One who sent Me
John 14:7 If you really know Me, you will know My Father as well.
John 14:8-9 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know Me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
God looks and acts exactly like Jesus. So simple yet so profound. The book of John really nails this point. There is this cycle throughout the book: one or more claims that Jesus is God followed by one or more stories that tell us something Jesus did. The message of John is so plain. Jesus is God. This is what God does.

Jesus is God.
God loves and helps the helpless. (water to wine) 

Jesus is God.
God loves and talks to and teaches the self-righteous. God loves and associates with and teaches the outcasts and immoral. (Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman)

Jesus is God.
God brings hope and healing to the lame. 

Jesus is God.
God rescues and does not condemn the adulteress. 

Jesus is God.
God gives sight to the blind.

Jesus is God.
God raises the dead!

Jesus is God.
God offers the most humble service (even washes nasty feet) and expects us to do the same.

Jesus is God.
God overcomes evil and violence with self-sacrificial submission and love.

Jesus is God.
God overcomes death!!!

John isn't just one book with a unique message in the canon. No, the early disciples agree. The rest of the Bible agrees. The main point of the Old Testament is Jesus (John 5:39, 45-46; John 1:45; Luke 24:27, 44, etc. etc.). The books included in the New Testament canon were included because they testify of Jesus.

The Hebrew writer said that the way God speaks to us now is through His Son, who is the EXACT representation of God's being (Heb. 1:1-3). Paul agrees. He wrote that the Son is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). ALL of the fullness of God dwells in Jesus (Col. 1:19; Col. 2:9).

Do you see how profound that is? God is not a book. God is not a doctrine. God is not a church. God is not rules. God is not a feeling. God is not a relationship. God is not an egotistical cosmic despot. God is Jesus. God is perfectly and completely revealed to us in the person, Jesus. Others-oriented, self-sacrificial, loving, and serving. In the past, when I've referred to the word of God, I've primarily meant the Bible. However, when the Bible refers to the word of God, it primarily means Jesus. I wanted words and symbols to describe God, but God gave me a person. This is what John was talking about when he said the the Word was God. Jesus is God's word.

The way God has always been, the way God is, and the way God always will be is shown in Jesus. Any concept of God or view of God that is incompatible with Jesus is erroneous.  Jesus is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. The Bible helps us to understand God in that the Bible says that the exact, flawless, complete revelation of God is Jesus. The Bible points us to Jesus, from beginning to end. It must be read that way.

This same Jesus dwells in us by His Spirit and wants us to grow to be made more like Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment