A Christ-Like God

609289_d75322fd3aa69f0a6db8de6e473ed7f6_large copy
Here then, is the revolution:
for all our dreams,
our dark and frightened
imagings of God,
there is no God in heaven
who is unlike Jesus.

– Michael Reeves,
Rejoicing in Christ

Advertisements

What is God like?

e7f8fc3f6f542d00f119b1eff60f98d5

One of Gary Larson’s famous The Far Side cartoons depicts God sitting at his computer, on which is displayed an image of a man strolling innocently down the sidewalk. A grand piano hangs precariously over the fellow’s head, supported by slender ropes. God’s hand is hovering over the keyboard, His index finger about to strike the “SMITE” key.

Larson’s cartoon is funny, but also tragic. It reflects a notion in the minds of many of a God who takes delight in judging and smiting.

Most people have serious questions about the kind of God they’re dealing with. Sadly, many Christians cannot shake the notion that God is a stern celestial patriarch who is fussy, easily annoyed, demanding and reluctant to forgive. Our twisted ideas about God are deeply entrenched.

Popular notions of God tend to gravitate to two extremes: harsh implacable hostility or sappy doting benevolence. Omni-anger or omni-mush.

The God who exists is neither.

He is exactly like Jesus.

There is no ominous God who lurks behind Jesus. If we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father. Jesus is the final answer to the question, “What is God like?” We have a Christ-like God. Jesus is the truth about God.

God is neither a sadist judge nor doting grandfather. He is a Calvary-like God. He is a turbulent, ardent, holy, fiery, awesome, passionate Lover. And He has set his affections on you.

That is the most staggering piece of news you will ever hear.

–J. O. Schulz

What is your picture of God?

JesusInCrowd3The foundation for . . . Christianity as a whole—is the claim that God looks like Jesus . . . Jesus spent his ministry freeing people from evil and misery. This is what God seeks to do. Jesus wars against spiritual forces that oppress people and resist God’s good purposes. This is what God does. Jesus loved people others rejected—even people who rejected him. This is how God loves. Jesus had nothing but compassion for people who were afflicted by sin, disease and tragedy. This is how God feels. And Jesus died on the cross of Calvary suffering in the place of sinful humanity, defeating sin and the devil, because he passionately loves people and wants to reconcile them to God. This is how God saves.

–Gregory Boyd
Is God to Blame?

The corrective to blurry vision

Christ A5BNo one in the Old Testament could claim to know the face of God. No one, in fact could survive a direct gaze. The few who caught a glimpse of God’s glory came away glowing like extraterrestiales, and all who saw them hid in fear. But Jesus offered a long, slow look a the face of God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” he said. What Jesus is, God is. As Michael Ramsey put it, “In God is no unChristlikeness at all.”

People grow up with all sorts of notions of what God is like. They may see God as an Enemy, or a Policeman, or even an Abusive Parent. Or perhaps they do not see God at all, and only hear his silence. Because of Jesus, however, we no longer have to wonder how God feels or what he is like. When in doubt, we can look at Jesus to correct our blurry vision.

–Philip Yancey
Disappointment with God

Easy to live with

606688_407f9127cf039961c25f5312c8693ae4_large

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom . . . Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people, and they attribute the singing and shouting to sheer fanaticism. Unhappy sods, these, doomed to go heavily on their melancholy way, grimly determined to do right if the heavens fall and to be on the winning side in the day of judgment.

How good it would be if we could learn
that God is easy to live with.

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

–A. W. Tozer
The Root of the Righteous

Redefining God

Baby Jesus & Mary 5

Christmas calls 
for a total revolution 
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

Fountain of rich grace

IMG_7916a

Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God?

divider1

Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.

–John Owen
(1616 – 1683)

Image: Joseph Boltrukiewicz

God’s idea of God

Christ A21 C

Our idea of God
is not God.
Instead, we ought
to begin with
God’s idea of God,
and God’s idea of God
is Christ.

–E. Stanley Jones

What God is like

ProdigalSon

Luke 15:11-32

This story is about who God is and what God is actually like. It is about the way God thinks, how He thinks. It is about the way God acts towards us. It is about the Father’s heart and joy. It is a story of a God we can believe in–a parable of the dancing God.

Jesus picks the worst person that he can possibly find and he has the Father running after him. This most pitiful excuse of a son, Jesus tells us, is the object of the Father’s intense longing and passion and affection. He is the object of the Father’s care and unconditional no-strings-attached forgiveness.

ProdigalSon copy 2

Jesus paints a picture of God standing on the balcony of heaven, watching, searching the horizon for the least inkling of a shadow of His son’s return. And once He sees him, this son, Jesus has the Father running and embracing him and commanding a great party to be thrown on his behalf.

What a picture of God! I tell you there is no greater statement about God in the whole Bible than verse 20: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed and kissed and kissed him” (NASB). He was absolutely thrilled to see him.

ProdigalSon copy

The first question for all of us, and maybe the only question, is this: Have we met this Father? Have we met the God of this parable? Do we know Him?

Can you not feel Jesus’ heart here? Can you not see, written all over his face, the words, “You have just got to meet the real God”? Can you not feel Jesus struggling with the whole wrongheadedness of the prevailing conception of God around him? Can you not hear him saying to himself, “If they could just meet Him and know Him, it would change everything”?

–C. Baxter Kruger
The Parable of the Dancing God

I don’t believe in him either

2165849106_32cbbc7ee7_m

“Describe the God
you rejected . . .
Describe the God
you don’t believe in . . .
Maybe I don’t believe in
that God either.”

–Tim Keller

This is our God

Every false theology in history has been a failure to take seriously — that the only true understanding of God is that which comes through revelation of the Son, who is the full, perfect, absolute representation . . .  of who God is and what God is like.

–Gordon Fee

He came to show us God

Because of Jesus…I must adjust my instinctive notions about God. Perhaps that lay at the heart of his mission? Jesus reveals a God who comes in search of us, a God who makes room for our freedom even when it costs the Sons life, a God who is vulnerable. Above all, Jesus reveals a God who is love.

–Philip Yancey

Not the God we imagined

Jesus reveals a God
entirely different
to the monstrous bore
we routinely imagine
God to be.

–Mike Reeves

Who does the knocking?

Most of us have grown up visualizing God as ensconced behind the thick walls of His heavenly fortress while we’re banging our fists on the door trying to persuade Him that we’re good enough for Him to let us in. But Revelation 3:20 pictures us inside and God outside knocking on the door, trying to persuade us that He is good enough for us to let Him in. God is the one on trial, not us. We are deciding whether He’s the kind of God we want to spend forever with.

–Dan Smith

Which god do you not believe in?

A young chaplain at one of the colleges of Oxford University made it his practice every year to interview each new student in his college. He wanted to get to know each one and to explain something of the religious program in that college. On occasion, after the chaplain had made his case for the program, a freshman would explain a bit awkwardly that he did not believe in God and probably would not be active in the chaplain’s program. The chaplain would than reply, “How interesting! And in which god do you not believe?” The student then would try to explain his atheism. The chaplain would smile and comment on the fact that he and the student had a great deal in common, for he did not believe in the existence of that god either.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

A faith worth losing

Sometimes when I listen to people who say they have lost their faith, I am far less surprised than they expect. If their view of God is what they say, then it is only surprising that they did not reject it much earlier.

Other people have a concept of God
so fundamentally false that it would be better
for them to doubt than to remain devout.

The more devout they are, the uglier their faith will become since it is based on a lie. Doubt in such a case is not only highly understandable, it is even a mark of spiritual and intellectual sensitivity to error, for their picture is not of God but an idol.

― Os Guinness

People become like their God

“Show me your gods and I will show you your people.” This adage holds true. If our concept of God is that of a Solitary Divine Dictator, it follows that we will be suspicious, critical, harsh, cold and condemning. Strong on “truth” and short on love. Joyless members of the righteous remnant. We unconsciously reflect the character of the Divine Being we believe in.

Not exactly inviting when your God is like Caesar.

If, on the other hand, we have been caught up in the self-giving love of the Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; if we have tasted and seen the unspeakable goodness and grace of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, how can we not be humble, grateful, and generous?

We will reflect the overflowing kindness and magnanimity of our God.

Forgiven people forgive; welcomed people welcome others; the recipients of grace bestow grace. Their failures have been overwhelmed by mercy—and they can now act accordingly. Those who have been drawn into the abounding life of the Triune God find themselves spreading kindness and goodness and joy.

They have been blessed and can afford to bless others—even the ones who are not very agreeable, or doctrinally correct. They don’t need to zero in on other’s errors, because their heavenly Father doesn’t. They can be generous with words, attitudes and resources, because they have come to know a God of unstoppable goodness. They can value relationships, because that is what the Three-in-One God is all about. They can love the lost in all their lostness, because that’s the kind of love heaven lavishes on sinners.

People become like their God.

And if that is the case, you will want to make sure you’ve got the right God—the Triune God who lives in the Eternal Dance of glory, goodness and grace. The God of Calvary love. The God Christ came to reveal.

There is one way of knowing what He is really like—look at Jesus. Look at the cross. Only the Son knows the Father, and those to whom the Son makes Him known.

He is a God who lays down his life for others. That is what actually goes on inside the Trinity! Self-sacrificing love. One author described Him as a Supreme Being of “fathomless unselfishness.” The cross was not an accident. It is what this Triune Community is all about. It is what the Bible means when it says, “God is love.” What an amazing Deity He turns out to be!

And to believe in Him is to become like Him.

A belief in the Divine Dictator tends to produce mean-spirited people. And there’s no reason to become a part of that crowd—because that god doesn’t exist.

Moreover, it is highly desirable to pattern one’s life after the true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He looks exactly like Jesus—and we have never ever seen anyone as wonderful as Him!

–Jurgen Schulz

%d bloggers like this: