What Is God Like?

WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

Colossians 1: 15-20 (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

 

People have some confused ideas about what God is like… if indeed they think about God at all!

Jesus told the disciples that they must first believe in God and then in Him, so our ideas about God will affect the way in which we understand and relate to Jesus Christ.

Here are nine ideas about God that people may hold

  1. God as a VICTORIAN SCHOOLMASTER
  2. God as a POLICEMAN
  3. God as a SPIDER
  4. God as a MULE
  5. God as FATHER CHRISTMAS (Santa Claus)
  6. God as a SNAKE
  7. God as a FILM STAR
  8. God as a SUPERHERO
  9. God as an ALIEN BEING

First, let’s look at these perceptions from a sceptic’s viewpoint

  1. God as a VICTORIAN SCHOOLMASTER:
  • Very strict … waiting to punish us … harsh, unyielding and fierce
  • Grandpa’s teachers… “Some of my teachers were devils!”
  1. God as a POLICEMAN:
  • Do this, don’t do that … break the law and you will suffer
  • The only way to satisfy this “god” is to obey the law to the letter
  1. God as a SPIDER:
  • Making an invisible web to catch us out before pouncing on us
  • Enjoying the sight of us squirming and wriggling, unable to escape
  • Sucking the life out of us
  1. God as a MULE:
  • Reluctant to cooperate … slow to respond and stubborn …
  • Unsympathetic … deaf to our cries … refusing to carry our burdens
  1. God as FATHER CHRISTMAS (Santa Claus):
  • Turns up occasionally but is otherwise busy elsewhere
  • Would never harm a fly!
  • Sits in his heavenly armchair, unaware of what you and I are experiencing
  • Existing solely to provide what we want rather than what is in our best interests
  1. God as a SNAKE:
  • Soft, soothing words but ready to deceive unless we are careful
  • Unpredictable … allowing things to happen that will harm us and not caring or intervening
  • Waiting and watching but unconcerned about our suffering
  1. God as a FILM STAR:
  • Too high and mighty to be concerned with mere mortals
  • Too busy to bother with ordinary people
  • Only interested in those who are useful to him because of the talents they possess or their youthful vigour or their status
  1. God as a SUPERHERO:
  • Waiting for our 999 call but otherwise inactive
  • Zooming to our rescue (perhaps) then flying off again
  • A remote hero figure, just doing his job … but not interested in me personally
  1. God as an ALIEN BEING:
  • Somewhere “out there”, dwelling in a faraway universe
  • A bit creepy and scary … unable to experience human life
  • Only accessible through sophisticated means, not by conventional forms of communication, such as speech or sorrow or pain

I suspect that for most people, God is a confusing concoction of these descriptions

But what does the Bible reveal about God?

  1. God as a VICTORIAN SCHOOLMASTER:
  • Yes, God does have to correct us… it’s part of His role as “Father”
  • Sometimes, we have to be disciplined … but because God cares and wants us to find the narrow way that leads to life
  1. God as a POLICEMAN:
  • Yes, God draws up boundaries for our protection and wellbeing
  • Just like a “Keep away, deep water” or “Stand back from the edge of the platform” sign, we need to be protected from damaging actions
  • If we transgress the law, we can expect to reap the consequences
  • If we walk in God’s ways, He promises that no evil will befall us, even if circumstances shout the opposite!
  • King David declares that he will “fear no evil” (Psalm 23). Why? Because God was with him (and with us) in every situation … if we want Him to be!
  1. God as a SPIDER:
  • God does not need to “catch us out” because every person has sinned and fallen short of His required standard
  • Nothing is concealed from God because He is all-seeing and all-knowing
  • He has no pleasure in seeing us caught in the web of sin but rather has made a way out through His Son, Jesus Christ
  • He has not left us to suffer the wages of sin but provided a way out through Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world
  1. God as a MULE:
  • God is not reluctant to answer our prayers and carry our burdens

… Indeed, Jesus invites us to share His yoke and call upon His name

  • If God seems not to answer our prayers, it’s either because we are not asking according to His will or God has something better for us
  • Furthermore, Christ promises that His Spirit will live within us to show us the way and correct us when we stray
  1. God as FATHER CHRISTMAS (Santa Claus):
  • There is a sense in which God is like Santa because He only wants to give us good gifts that will benefit us and others
  • He is kind but not cuddly and sentimental
  • Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus but refused to perform a miracle when he stood before Herod at His trial
  • The gift that God most longs to give us is eternal life through His Son
  1. God as a SNAKE:
  • God never deceives or leads us astray … His word is certain and can be relied upon one hundred per cent
  • In fact, it is the devil (Satan) who is the great deceiver
  • It is interesting and troubling that Christians are today depicted as the evildoers because they resist ‘going with the flow’ of modern godless philosophies
  1. God as a FILM STAR:
  • Certainly, He is worthy to be praised … He is the Creator of heaven and earth
  • But He made himself a little lower than the angels by coming to live as a man on earth
  • Far from clinging on to His majesty, He humbled himself to the extent that He was willing to die upon the Cross of Calvary
  1. God as a SUPERHERO:
  • Well, God will rescue us from difficult situations … but sometimes He leaves us in those circumstances to develop our faith and trust in Him… or for reasons that are beyond our comprehension
  • People sometimes ask why God allowed a thing to happen… Why didn’t He intervene and save that child; avert that tragedy; protect the helpless… The fact is that we don’t know the answer… We can only say that God sees life from its widest perspective, whereas we only see it from a narrow one… and that God’s ultimate purposes are trustworthy
  1. God as an ALIEN BEING:
  • Definitely not! He invites us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us
  • He knows us better than we know ourselves
  • He knows us by name … they are written on the palms of His hands

So what IS God like?

  • We need to look at Jesus Christ, who was God made flesh
  • All the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily in Him

Paul writes in his letter to the church at Colossae (see Chapter 1) these remarkable truths:

  • Christ is the visible image of the invisible God
  • God created everything through His Son
  • Christ holds all of creation together
  • Christ is the head of His body, the church
  • And through Him, God reconciled everything to himself.
    He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

And to understand what God is like, we also need to look at ourselves and at one another because if the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, we are being transformed into His likeness…

Those around us cannot “see” God directly … but they can see the evidence of God in the lives of believers through our attitude, actions and reactions

  • People cannot see God, so they look at the next best thing… you and me!
  • How are we doing!

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