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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who Is God?

Often we hear people speak about God. God wants this or that. God says this or that. God likes this or that. God hates this or that. There's always someone who'll be glad to tell you - usually from a stage - what God says, wants, feels, thinks, likes or hates.

I've often wondered if this telling is really necessary. Frankly, I've never heard anyone tell me about God who didn't seem to have some sort of bias in their telling. I mean each person who tells me about God seems to emphasize some particular aspect of God's nature and character. Like maybe God is love (that's always a standard definition).

Can anyone really tell you about God? Can anyone really be told about God? I mean is any one person really capable of comprehending enough aspects of God such that they could tell it in a way that God could then be known? Or is any one individual really capable of hearing enough about God such that they could really know Him? (I doubt it ... in both cases.)

The Bible says that none of us can really ever comprehend God. We can know Him intimately. But we can never understand Him or His ways. They are not of this earth. They are not even of our species! Perhaps when we get to heaven - and break free of this human dimension that is so limiting - we may be able to really comprehend God. Until then, it seems we have to live with a considerably incomplete knowledge of God.

I'm in the process of making a new friend right now. He's quite an intelligent man, a capable business executive. He's also no slouch in the area of spiritual maturity either. You could call him a ministry leader, for sure. But he asked me a question this week that got me to thinking. The question was about how some people get a view of God that is negative. They may see God as mean and controlling. He wanted to know if I had any insight as to how such a view could be acquired.

As I pondered my new friend's question, I could think of people who have such a view of God. Usually they fear Him in unhealthy ways. More often than not, people who view God as mean and controlling also don't have a very good relationship with Him either. On the other hand, I thought of the people who see God as this loving grandfather sitting in the rocking chair on the porch, probably dispensing candy all day. That's not a very good perspective to hold either.

I realized that both views of God are incorrect. They're just flat out wrong. He is not a mean, controlling god. Nor is He a wish-granting genie of a god. Rather He is God. And these views of Him that package Him in one direction or the other seem as evil as not believing in God at all. Frankly, atheists could be better off than people who have a distorted view of God. At least an atheist can come to the truth without the baggage and missed preconceptions that need to be dealt with!

I like to look at the Old Testament to see the character and nature of God. I see, for example, that He is just - but not fair. Somehow, we humans seem to think that fairness goes hand-in-hand with justice. God wouldn't share that view with us. Life ... which God invented ... just isn't fair. Isn't that odd?

One thing I see about God's nature and character is a rather swift and harsh response to sin and evil. Throughout the Old Testament God is dealing with evil people and sin in some astonishing ways. Those events are starkly absent in the New Testament. What's different? Did God change His mind about sin? I don't think so.

In the New Testament, we have Jesus. He stands in between us and God now. The Bible says He intercedes for us with God. So I see that if not for Jesus, God would still be burning cities with sulphur, turning women into pillars of salt, etc. To be sure, God is unchanging. He response to sin hasn't changed. He is a Holy God - who cannot tolerate sin. It's not even a choice for Him. But today Jesus changes how we experience God's response to sin.

Yes, God is all loving. His responses to sin have nothing to do with His love for us. In fact, that God loved us enough to send His Son as a Savior says quite a bit about His true nature and character. God knew that His response to sin would never change. He also knew that we could never stand up to that response. So He sent Jesus to stand in the gap on our behalf. Jesus makes us holy and acceptable to God. But make no mistake, God still sees sin the same way. And He still hates sin as much today as He did in Bible times.

After years and years of walking with God, talking with God, listening to God, studying God's Word and worshipping God, I'm just now beginning to come to some comprehension of God. And it's limited. In fact, the more I know God and understand Him, the more convinced I am that it is impossible for any human to tell another about God. At best, we can make the introduction, and allow God to reveal Himself to others as they seek Him themselves.

1 comment:

  1. God never changes. His nature is the same today as it has always been. It is wonderful that through Jesus we can see more of who God is. Jesus said, "If you knew me, you would also know my Father." And "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!" Jesus is the tangible, visible image of the invisible God. To know Jesus is to know God.