What’s God Like and What Does God Think of Us?
I was recently reading a devotional book that referred me to Isaiah 43:1-7:
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (NIV)
The devotional asked two questions:
- Who is God for you?
- How does God see you?
That made me stop and think. In fact, I found myself pondering those questions deeply for a long time. I’m a pastor, a Bible teacher and a hospital chaplain. I run into a lot of people who tell me they believe in God. But, they don’t all mean the same thing. Among those I listen to and pray with, I find at lest eight different views of God:
- The Celestial Santa Claus– a jolly, magical supernatural guy who is “out there” someplace and loves to give you stuff if you can just learn the right formulas. This is the god of the prosperity movement. He’s very popular in America.
- The Kindly Old Grandpa, who, as C.S. Lewis said, simply wants everyone to have a good time, to enjoy life. This god likes everyone and just wants us to get along so he can have some peace and quiet.
- The Distant Creator, the Watchmaker god, the god of Deism, who designed everything, created everything, is out there somewhere, but now has little or nothing to do with the world. Perhaps this god has moved on to other projects. This is the god of most of America’s founding fathers. This is the god of the Enlightenment.
- The Tribal Nationalistic Warrior God, also very popular in America. This god is red, white, and blue. This god loves America, puts America first, and likes Americans best. This god is ready to use any weapons available to make America great. (Of course, other nations have the same god, just a different flag.)
- The Nebulous Impersonal Force, which may be referred to as god, or higher power, or the universe. This is a life-force that pervades and bonds all living things. This force is neither good nor evil (perhaps both). It’s kind of like gravity.
- The Projection of What I Would Do/Be if I Were God– also very common. We create god in our own image. If I were god, I’d crush my political enemies and my business competitors, so I call on my god to do the same.
- The Stern Judge– the god of much of religion. You don’t mess with this god. He’s essentially mad at you and ready to throw you into a horrible eternal torture chamber, and would if his own son didn’t pop up and take a beating for you. This god is really ticked off and is going to slaughter lots of people when he comes again.
- The Magic-Maker, Problem Solver God. Similar to the Celestial Santa Claus, but not just there to give you stuff. This god rides in the backseat of your life. This god will magically solve all your problems without you having to work at any of them. This god zaps alcoholics and instantly makes them sober, makes a stranger pay off your college debt, and eliminates any need for a therapist.
There are other gods around, but those are the ones I run into most often. Many times, a person’s god is a blend of some of the above gods. I frequently run into the Tribal Nationalistic Warrior, Magic-Making, Santa combo god, for instance.
Regardless of my view of God, however, God exists independent of me. What I believe does not change reality. I can believe with all my heart that the world is flat, COVID-19 is fake, and Donald Trump is King Cyrus, but the reality is quite different.
The true and living God has been revealed to us. Perfectly revealed, in fact. God is perfectly revealed in Jesus. “If you’ve seen me,” Jesus said, “you’ve seen the Father.” God is exactly like Jesus. There is nothing unchristlike in God. If you read a passage in the Bible where it appears that God is not acting like Jesus, something else is going on there because God’s nature never changes. He always was, is now, and always will be exactly like Jesus.
Who is God to me? Jesus.
What’s Jesus like? Loving, forgiving, caring, compassionate, welcoming, serving, gentle friend of sinners. He is my nurturing, guiding, protecting, Abba and Mother.
The devotional also asked me to consider, as I read slowly, meditatively, through scripture, how does God see me?
I know how I see me. I don’t like me much of the time. I know how others see me. That’s a mixed bag.
But, none of that’s ultimately as important as knowing how God sees me. God sees me as:
- A work in progress
- Loved unconditionally
- Forgiven completely
- Accepted thoroughly
- Bearing God’s likeness
- A beloved child in God’s family
When Jesus prayed for us, he said that God the Father loves you and me with the same love with which he loves Jesus. In John 17:23, Jesus prays:
I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
God the Father, Creator of all, loves you just as much as God the Father loves King Jesus the Messiah and Savior of the world.
Your core identity is: Beloved Child of God
And God is Perfect Love.
Posted on July 12, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, bodily resurrection, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Prayer, Prophecy, Spirituality, The Cross, Theodicy, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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