What is God like? I mean, really like? Not an exegesis from someone who is more educated on how to interpret scripture than they are in how to experience God himself. That’s not to say that hermeneutics, scholarship, and the like don’t have it’s significant and rightful place within the church, and larger within the Kingdom of God. They are absolutely necessary, and increasingly so in a day where our culture shifts more toward relativism than gospel story. There are such theologians alive today who brilliantly explain scripture through wise interpretation and depth of experience. Such balance provides us with a rich, substantive, and beautiful view of who God is.
So, what I mean to express in my opening statement is simply this: Attempting to define God, the deity, Father of all creation, is hard enough as it is, but we complicate things much more by attempting to define his nature, character, and being with images from the Bible without experiencing that nature for ourselves.
Generally, we make our attempts at “knowing God” by seeing him in the Old Testament, and we leave the New Testament to itself. After all, the job of the New Testament is to show us Jesus who reconciled us to God, correct? All of what I just stated is very true, but it’s exactly that reconciliation that I feel we miss the point of. Therefore, our imagination of who God is has been reduced to his Old Testament likeness as if that were the end of God’s story. But we know it’s not, right? If God is the uncreated one, and if he is the very eternal being from whose image we were created, then there is no end, correct?
The truth is that the Bible does quite an extraordinary job of defining exactly the nature of God, but sometimes I feel we miss the point as we search through the ancient text for our latest brand of relevancy, political position, or justification for our own actions.
It seems as if we have a view of God, as creator, that places him at odds with Jesus, the savior. When we take on that mindset we immediately become dismissive of the Trinitarian view of the godhead which is foundational to Christian teaching, living, and interpretation of scripture. If we leave the story of God locked in the Old Testament passages, so that we can make room for his beloved son Jesus in the New, then we miss the point entirely.
God was not at odds with Jesus, the son, but rather was an active participant in the coming of his son.
“The Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…” Hebrews 1:3
It’s here, and so many other places throughout scripture, that we learn of the divine oneness of the Holy Trinity. Three, but one. Jesus, being the exact representation of God the Father, Creator, Deity. He put on humanity and lived fully God, and fully man.
Jesus came to reveal to us what God is really like. If our image of God stops at the ending of the Old Testament, then we’re left with a believe that God is separated from us, doesn’t identify with us, and can’t have anything to do with us. Therefore, we needed Jesus to come “purchase” our forgiveness, so that God’s wrath against us would be appeased.
However, if our view of God is the view presented to us in Hebrews 1:3, then we get a different picture of what God is like. God is like Jesus! Jesus was a real man, that was experienced by real people, in real need. God so badly wanted to identify with us, to be with us, that he was willing to lay down all of his glory in order to come rescue us from ourselves. Forgiveness was a gift with no need of a price tag. The price on our head was the bounty owed to death by the cause of our own actions, rebellion, and disobedience. This is the beautiful exchange that was made. While we were yet sinners (still in that fallen state, death, destructive) Christ died for us.
This Jesus can be experienced even today, and is daily by millions across the world. The number of people experiencing Jesus grows rapidly each day, and I submit that there are many more who are longing for an encounter with the God revealed in Jesus in the depths of their heart.
What is God like?
“God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. We haven’t always known that God is like Jesus, but now we do.” – Brian Zahnd