WHAT IS GOD LIKE? Colossians 1: 15-22
- Have you ever had to meet someone whom you’ve never seen before? How did you recognise him/her?
(A rose in your lapel/ the Times newspaper/ a picture on your ‘phone)
- I have a friend who was mistaken for a well-know speaker and thanked by a lady for his message as they left the event
(What would you have done? Told the lady she was mistaken and embarrassed her… or accepted her thanks politely and walked on?)
- I am sometimes confused with a man of the same name, who works in the same profession as me
(He has a reputation for having rather extreme views, so I try to correct the error!)
- Sometimes terrible crimes of revenge have been carried out against the wrong person… mistaken identity!
(Acid in the face… a drive-by shooting…)
- Sometimes, the wrong person has been imprisoned…
(Though less commonly owing to DNA testing)
But what is GOD like and, if it’s not a silly question, how would you recognise Him if you met Him in the street?
(NOTE: It’s a silly question because God is Spirit.)
COMMON PERCEPTIONS OF GOD
There are many different and sometimes bizarre ideas about God…
God as an alien
- Remote…far away watching events from a distance
- A bit creepy and scary; unpredictable
God as a Victorian School master
- Very strict
- Waiting to punish us
God as a policeman
- Do this, do that; don’t do this; don’t do that
- Break the law and I’ll arrest you
God as a spider
- Trying to catch us out and “pounce”
- Enjoying seeing us squirm on the end of a hook or in a web
God as a donkey
- Slow and stubborn
- Reluctantly doing the absolute minimum to help
God as Santa Claus
- Turns up once a year…at Christmas
- Would never harm a fly
- Sits for most of the time in his armchair, unaware of what we are going through
God as a film star
- High and mighty…wanting to be waited on head and foot
- Too busy to bother about ordinary people
- Only interested in important people
God as Superhero
- Waiting for the 999 call
- Zooming to our rescue, then flying off again
- A remote hero figure, just doing his job but not interested in me personally
BUT WHAT IS GOD REALLY LIKE?
The Bible has the answer…
From the Old Testament we find that God is…
- A witness (Genesis 31:50) to what we pledge to do
- A consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29) in ‘burning up’ those who break the covenant they make with Him
- A merciful God (Deuteronomy 4:31) because He will always keep HIS side of the bargain, regardless of our failure
- A righteous judge (Psalm 7:11) who takes sin seriously
- A God who saves us from death (Psalm 68:20)
- A sun and shield (Psalm 84:11) because He longs to bless us and demonstrate His favour, especially on those whose walk is blameless
And in the New Testament:
I John 4:7-9
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
God is not remote like an ALIEN unless you choose to keep Him at arm’s length
- The Bible tells us that if we come near to God then He will come near to us
- If we choose to reject Him then He still loves us but won’t interfere with our lives…so we are on our own
God can be strict like a SCHOOL MASTER
- He will sometimes need to be firm…but because He cares, not because He wants to make life miserable for us
JUST AS LOVING PARENTS NEEDS TO DISCIPLINE THEIR CHILDREN
God is a bit like a POLICEMAN
- He draws up boundaries for our own safety and wellbeing
- Like the line along the platform of a railway station or a “Keep away, deep water” sign
God is not like a SPIDER
- He’s not trying to catch us out
- He does not force us to do things…but He invites us
- If we listen carefully we will hear Him speak to us: ‘This is the way, walk in it’
God is not like a DONKEY reluctantly helping us
- He invites us to call to Him so that He can show us wonderful (‘great and mighty’) things we never dreamed of…
- But it must be in line with his will
God is not to be confused with SANTA CLAUS
- He is kind…but doesn’t just hand out presents with a ho-ho-ho
HE KNOWS OUR SITUATION…AND FEELS OUR PAIN
- But He won’t necessarily change the circumstances… sometimes he brings peace to the storm; sometimes He allows the storm to continue and gives us the peace and courage to survive it!
- He won’t always give us what we ask for because He can see into the future and knows if it will cause us pain
- When we pray it is, of course, ‘Your will be done’, not my will be done’
- Occasionally we insist with God and He allows it to happen…then it goes wrong and we blame Him!!
God is definitely not like an aloof FILM STAR
- He is interested in all of his creation
- Someone once said that He must love ordinary people…He made so many of us!
- And right from the Garden of Eden, God has chosen to walk alongside us…unseen…but there all the same and He sees us
God is a bit like a SUPERHERO
- He will often rescue us…or sometimes leave us where we are so that we learn to trust HIM and not our own resources!
FOR HE KNOWS THAT THERE ARE LESSONS THAT WE CAN ONLY LEARN THROUGH COPING WITH DIFFICULTY
- Someone has said that when our world is being shaken, we ask God for help, only to discover that HE is doing the shaking! BUT GENUINE QUESTIONS STILL EXIST…
- Why does God allow suffering and cruelty?
- Why didn’t He just organise the world so that there was only joy and peace?
IF WE KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT GOD…He would not be God!
But we can understand God much better when we look at Jesus Christ
As we read in Colossians 1: 15-22
Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen.
He is the first-born Son, superior to all creation.
Everything was created by him; everything in heaven and on earth; everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers and all rulers and authorities.
All things were created by God’s Son and everything was made for him.
God’s Son was before all else and by him everything is held together. He is the head of his body, which is the church.
He is the very beginning, the first to be raised from death, so that He would be above all others.
God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son. And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God.
You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things.
But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent.
But you must stay deeply rooted and firm in your faith. You must not give up the hope you received when you heard the good news. It was preached to everyone on earth and I myself have become a servant of this message.
1. Jesus was kind to everyone who was sincere…but strict with those who tried to trick Him. In the same way, we must be honest with God
2. Jesus told His disciples that their job was not just to catch fish…but to tell people the Good News, as He did.
3. Jesus didn’t moan and groan when He saw the people’s need… He did something about it. He encourages us to do the same
4. Jesus doesn’t give us a present once a year like Father Christmas …He promises to be with us always…and gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him
5. Jesus wasn’t born in a Palace…but in an ordinary town among real people. He isn’t sitting on a cloud, asleep on a golden throne!
6. Jesus died so that we could be free from sin and its consequences… He died alone, carrying all the wrong things we have ever said, done or thought on the Cross
- If we know the One who is the truth, He will set us free
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT GOD IS LIKE? Look at Jesus
PEOPLE MIGHT ARGUE THAT THEY CAN’T SEE JESUS FOR REAL…
But in a way, they can!
- Look at anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian…a disciple of Jesus Christ
- You won’t see Jesus exactly…but you will see a strong resemblance of Him
- And if you decide to follow Jesus…He will give you the Holy Spirit and you will grow like Jesus, too
OF COURSE, WE CAN NEVER BE EXACTLY LIKE HIM!
- But the wonderful thing about trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour is that when God our Father looks at us, He doesn’t see all our wrongdoing and failure (known as ‘sin’). We are ‘covered’ and cleansed by the perfect life of Jesus that was given for the world on the Cross
In addition, one of the exciting and scary things about belonging to Jesus Christ is that He asks us to be His light in this world
- We are God’s ambassadors… speaking and acting on His behalf
- A huge privilege and responsibility
JESUS CHRIST…God as a man…bringing hope and freedom and new life… saving us from sin… making us right with God. Wow, too good to ignore!
So the question remains:
What will you do with the One they call Jesus… God in human form?