2002-01-18 - What is He Really Like?
Do a quick mental "association" test. When you say to yourself the word "God," what is the very first picture or thought that pops into your mind? A stern teacher who is hovering over you with a paddle, ready to smack you if you make a mistake? A loving grandfather who wants to indulge your every whim? A distant "Being" much like Voltaire's depiction of the Clockmaker who spins the universe into motion but then lets it go its own course? A loving, balanced parent who cherishes you and wants what is best for you, but will discipline you if it's in your best interest? If you chose the latter, your perception of God is more in line with the overall picture of HIm in the Bible.
Some of us attend (or did in the past) legalistic churches where the joy is zapped right out of our relationships with God, through leaders and peers who judge us if we don't live up to their manmade expectations of what we should be doing, "rules" which are not in the Bible. If we are not at the church every time the doors open, we are not faithful members, in spite of the fact that God's word says our family is to be a priority and in fact our most important ministry; sometimes that will conflict with a church actiivty. If we want to see a secular movie, we are "pagans," overlooking the fact that all truth is God's and He has used many a secular book or movie to draw people in His direction. We should use only "hymns" in a worship service, ignoring the fact that many Praise choruses are based on the Scriptures and sound much like the Psalms. If you don't support a boycott, you are not obeying Christ, not allowing for the fact that you may be called to be "salt and light" in another way.
But in fact, Christ and Paul spent much of their time fighting such legalism.
Matthew 15:1-3 (NASB) Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.'' And He answered and said to them, "why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"
Some of us treat God like Santa Claus. We go to Him with a "wish list" of sorts, devoting little time to seeking His face or praising Him. But as His word says:
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB) "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,'' declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Others picture God as someone removed -- both physically and emotionally -- from the human beings He created. Someone without emotions. But in actuality, the God who created us in His image has feelings, too.
Luke 19:40-41 (NASB) But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!'' When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it.
The God of the Bible does sometimes discipline His children, as does any loving parent.
Hebrews 12:7-8 (NASB) It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons..
But God's love for us is tender:
Matthew 23:37 (NASB) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
Some of us see God as a reflection of our Earthly fathers. Unfortunately, some of those parents were not very good models of our Heavenly Father, and that can skew our perception of our Lord.
If you want to get to know what God is truly like, study His Son. Read one of the Gospels and be assured that the words you read from Jesus are God's words, and the heart you see in Jesus is God's heart.
Hebrews 1:2-4 (NASB) In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
I encourage you this week, to try to get to know the real God. In addition to the Bible study and teaching you receive at church, search the Scriptures for yourself every day, as the early Christians did.
Acts 17:11 (NASB) Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Don't take anyone's word for what God is like, but God's own. Read what His Word has to say about His character.