Have you ever wondered what God is like? Is He the God who forgave the woman caught in adultery or the God who commanded the children of Israel to kill a man for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? Sometimes it seems like He is very erratic in His dealings with man, which makes it hard to want to draw close to Him. It’s hard to relate to a person who is unpredictable so the purpose of this article is to help you know what God is really like.
If you have wondered what God is really like, you aren’t alone. Jesus’s disciples had the same question. Look at this conversation out of John 14:
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father;
Jesus told His disciples if they knew Him, they knew God. Simple right? God look looks like Jesus! As simple as that sounds, Phillip then said, “show us the Father and it will be enough.” Essentially, he was saying, “I see you Jesus, but now show me God. He must be different from you” Jesus then exclaimed, “Phillip, if you’ve seen me, you have seen God!”
Things haven’t changed much in the last 2,000 years. We still read verses about God looking like Jesus, but then when a hurricane comes along and destroys a city people say, “God brought that storm to judge that city.” We say that even though Jesus never brought a hurricane on a city. In fact, Jesus calmed storms that were sent destroy people! I’m sure Jesus is in heaven saying, “The Father looks like me! I didn’t come to destroy means lives, but to save them!”
It’s almost like we read the verses about God looking like Jesus but don’t really consider what they mean. Jesus only did good and He never judged anyone. If we stop and think about this, the implications of God actually looking like Jesus are huge! If God the Father looks and acts like Jesus, then much of our “Christian religious tradition” is wrong. I know it’s uncomfortable challenging our traditions, but a major thrust of Jesus’s earthly ministry was challenging tradition. This still holds true today.
Some would say, but Pastor Brian, the Bible is full of verses that proclaim God’s wrath. Are you saying those aren’t true anymore? Do you not believe in the entire word of God? I absolutely believe in the entire word of God. Jesus was the entire word of God made flesh and He never violated the word, but He constantly violated the religious mind’s understanding of the word to reveal the heart of the Father. Think about it, He healed people on the Sabbath which totally violated the religious tradition of the day.
So how do we reconcile the verses that proclaim God’s wrath with the image of Jesus that seems to contradict those verses? The verses in the Bible that relate to God’s wrath and judgment were primarily contained in the law and the prophets (Old Testament). Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but fulfill. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. God knew none of us would ever be able to keep the law perfectly so he sent Jesus to fulfill the law perfectly and every person who believes in Jesus is given credit for being righteous, just like Jesus is.
As important as it to realize that Jesus fulfilled all of the law and the prophets, it’s even more important to understand why God gave the law and prophets. This will clarify our image of the Father. God gave the law to reveal to the children of Israel they were sinners and they couldn’t save themselves; they needed a savior. He then sent prophets to remind of their sin and point them to a savior who would come one day and be a perfect sacrifice for sin for all time. God never sent the law and prophets to get His people to try harder to be holy. He sent them so we would run up a white flag and allow Him to come in and rescue us. God used the law and prophets to get us to see our need to be rescued.
Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God who came to reveal the heart of the Father. To learn more, check out this recent message.