Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask God whatever you wanted, and find out what the deal was with… everything? If all your questions and doubts about Him could be settled in one conversation? That tends to be the way we think when we’re trying to get to know who a person really is—we spend time with them, ask them questions, and eventually build up a picture of who that person is.
The Bible provides a rich understanding of what God is like. I believe that it is a convincing understanding; in fact, I believe that the Christian faith is more convincing than the All Blacks’ win over Portugal. I also believe that it can stand up to even the toughest questions. I believe that the Bible’s message is true, and that through carefully studying it, we can get a glimpse of what God is really like.
The second edition of the Oxford American Dictionary describes God like this: “the creator and ruler of the universe, the source of all moral authority; the supreme being.” Some people think of God as a being who is all-knowing, all-seeing, but very far away. Other people see God as some kind of abstract power – “May the Force be with you.”
However – God is not merely a concept or force; he is personal. He intervenes in our world, at both a personal and collective level, whether it’s obvious or not. Bruce Almighty depicts God as a PC cross between Bill Cosby and Houdini – but God is so far beyond any concept that we can cook up. Trying to describe God, when it comes down to it, is like trying to describe the colour red to someone who can’t see. Paul, one of the leaders of the early Church, thought so too:
We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompleteness will be canceled. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12, The Message.
So how do we describe God? Doesn’t it seem laughable, trying to describe this infinite being when we can’t even see Him? The universe is also incredibly vast and complex – yet we endeavour, sometimes successfully, to understand it. In doing so, we begin to understand the intelligence and sheer magnitude of God. Only an intelligent and powerful being is capable of creating our cosmos, and the only being capable of ruling this it is one with supreme intelligence and power.
However, God is not merely powerful and infinite – He also possesses a character. But if we can’t catch up with God over coffee, how can we know what this is? Luckily for us, the Bible is not the Edmond’s Cook Book on steroids, merely giving a list of impersonal attributes.
It demonstrates God’s character — how He does things. It tells us that God is the epitome (perfection) of love, and captures this in its portrayal of the hero of the Bible, Jesus Christ. It also shows us that God is perfectly good, and completely fair.
Throughout history and even today, God has been involved in his creation. While in Thailand, I encountered examples of God acting in miraculous ways, a phrase which I don’t use lightly, or unthinkingly. But God is not just involved in the overt, miraculous events. He is also interested in our lives. We recognise this fact in the the life the Jesus led, and in the way that God brought him back to life as a sign that we can be brought back into a right relationship with Him.
Many people have an image of a spiteful, smiting God. Others see God as irrelevant or distant – others think that God doesn’t exist at all. These are the images of God you see bandied around in popular media, but they’re often based on an incomplete understanding of who God is. God is real, He is here, and He is active. Whatever you believe about God, it is important to consider what you base these beliefs on. God is one person you don’t want to be wrong about. Although we’re not promised an easy life through knowing God, we are promised hope, love and true freedom.
If you have any questions or comments relating to these things, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org