All over the world people visualize God in a variety of ways, utilizing different ideas, symbols and personalities to describe and illustrate Him. Christians even disagree on how we view The Eternal. We bounce between a demanding King, a judgmental Overlord, and a forgiving Father that wants to lead and guide us through the ups and downs of this life.
Since we are created as offspring of God and designed to be His image and likeness, some actually think He is like us. However, our sinful and messed up versions of Him are a far cry from who he really is. So, what is God really like?
Seeing The Eternal
Our Scripture declares The Eternal Deity is not like any other; “I am God, and there is no one like me.” (a) [see endnotes for NASB Scriptures] The Eternal is obviously much more than what He creates and His human offspring. “I am God, and not like man.” (b) God even addresses our misconceptions of Him, “You thought that I was just like you, but I will reprove you.” (c) As a contrast to our perceptions, He says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (d)
No natural eye has ever seen The Eternal, “No one has actually seen God.” (e) His expressions however have appeared in our world as angels and men, as fire and wind, heard as a voice, felt as a presence, and lived as a unique son in the life of Jesus Christ. (f) God however is much more than His expressions.
The Eternal responds to our assumptions with, “You thought I was like you,” (g) yet, “God sees not as a man sees,” (h) and “God is not a man that He should lie.” (i) Additionally, “As the heavens are higher than earth…My thoughts and ways are higher than yours.” (j) While we cannot discover the awesome “depths” or the “limitations” of the Almighty, (k) we still assume to understand what The Eternal is like.
Ascribing human characteristics to God tends to diminish His greatness. Even time has no hold on God, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (l) “The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator…does not become weary or tired, His understanding is inscrutable (unfathomable).” (m) When we think God is like us, it tends to give credibility to our inappropriate thoughts, behaviors and activity.
God is much more than His expressions.
Everything in Scripture relates to core truths, revealing aspects of God’s nature and His desire to guide us through life. So, why does our Bible often appear to contrast itself? It is because we fail to see the printed Word as a relational revealing. When we approach contrasts as blending complements, we can see balancing factors and greater truth is discovered.
Instead of arguing over whether salvation is by faith or by works, we should realize the differences are balancing factors. For we are told, “Faith without works is useless as dead.” (n) Clearly salvation is not earned by our works but our faith must be followed by works or it is not faith. Our salvation from what we were in to what we are created to be is a life-long process. (o) We are instructed to “work out” the salvation God is “working in us,” (p) so it becomes our life experience.
Additionally, Biblical faith is more than a belief system or set of rules. Scripture defines faith as: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (q) In other words, faith is the activity of fine-tuning us into what God (the unseen) is saying and desiring to do, supported by our confident persuasion it will be! This is why Scripture says “Faith comes from hearing…the word of Christ” (r) and “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (s)
Christians today tend to visualize God as either one, two or three persons. Many arguments are made over the confusion and end up claiming it’s a mystery. When God spoke of Himself in the plural tense during the creation account: “Let us…in our…according to our,” (t) He referenced the complementary methods He would utilize to make, reform and mature mankind. The Eternal helps us relate and experience His love through three expressions: a father, a spirit presence, and a pattern son.
If we view the different expressions as complements we can realize that while God is One, He interacts with us in three primary ways.
- As Father, God is our source of life, overseeing our growing development.
- As the Holy Spirit, God is the abiding presence that dwells with, among, and in our midst.
- As Jesus Christ, He is the ideal illustration of the “image and likeness” of God in a human, a visual we can most clearly relate to.
The words and life examples of Jesus illustrate God’s design for His children during this life. As offspring of God, we can know and experience His insightful guidance through one or all three of His revealing expressions. Each expression seeks to lead and guide us through this life’s circumstances.
The Eternal helps us relate and experience His love through three expressions: a father, a spirit presence, and a pattern son.
Light & Love
What about the different ideas, symbols and personalities we utilize to describe, illustrate and worship God? Scripture says He hears and responds to the intents of our heart. (u) Surely He is not put off by our tainted perceptions and is able to look beyond our limitations and imperfections. Thankfully, we can actually approach and speak to Him and He hears us.
So, what is The Eternal really like? “God is love” and “He is light.” (v) In God, love and light are not independent features; they are intimately bound to each other. Godly love does not exist apart from godly light. While The Eternal Deity is love and light, His expressive actions cannot be one or the other; they are loving-light and enlightening-love.
Since God is light and love we must ask, are our expressions loving and enlightening? Do we tend to condemn others because they do not understand or act like us? We should not assume the Eternal is like us. He does not grow and develop, so we should not limit Him to our undeveloped understandings.
May you seek out God’s light and love today, to better reflect His image and likeness in your life!
God is love and He is light.
a) Isaiah 46:9; b) Hosea 11:9; Numbers 23:19; c) Psalm 50:21; d) Isaiah 55:8; e) John 1:18; 1 John 4:12; Exodus 33:20; f) John 1:1, 14; g) Psalm 50:21; h) 1 Samuel 16:7; i) Numbers 23:19; j) Isaiah 55:8-9; k) Job 11:7; l) 2 Peter 3:8; m) Isaiah 40:28; n) James 2:20-26; o) Mark 13:13; p) Philippians 2:12-13; q) Hebrews 11:1; r) Romans 10:17; s) Hebrews 11:6; t) Genesis 1:26; u) 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; v) 1 John 1:5; 4:8;