What is God Like?

What Is God Like


Dear Friends,


Let’s talk about God.  The gods of men come in all shapes and sizes.  People worship big gods and small gods, gods with stunning beauty and gods with multiple arms and legs.  Some gods live nearby and other gods live far away.  A few fit in our pocket until we trade them in on bigger gods.  Some are parked in our driveway until we decide we want a god with more power or a brighter shine.  Many of us worship ourselves as gods or we treat our children as if they were.  There are smiling gods and gods with bloody claws.  Some gods will listen and work on our behalf while others leave us to the whim fate.  As Christians we quickly denounce these lower case “g” gods as false, idolatry and evil.  We say, “There is only one true God, the creator God, the God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture.


So, what about our God?  What is He like?  We don’t find an essay in the Bible that zeros in on the full nature of God.  Even Jesus, God the Son in the flesh, only hinted at the attributes of God in parables.  He never sat down and wrote an autobiography.  While the Bible is not an exhaustive treatise on everything there is to know about God it does contain a number of His attributes, His nature spread throughout the pages.  Perhaps more importantly however, we find examples of how He interacts with human beings.  And through these accounts we have access to many deep insights about Him.


When you stop and think about it, it’s amazing that human beings can know God in the personal way that we do – that we can develop a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.  King David asked in Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him…?”  What is man indeed… Still, the testimony of God’s people through the ages is that God is mindful of us and has provided a way for us to get to know him in a very personal way.  Unfortunately, many of the beliefs that people have are way off the mark, scripturally.


The Pouncer God is the idea that God is out there just waiting to pounce on us whenever we step out of line.  God’s attributes of all-knowing and all-seeing have been warped into the impression that God is spying on us through a hole in the ceiling, waiting to cut loose with His wrath and judgement.  The famous preacher of colonial times, Jonathan Edwards, preached what is one of the most famous sermons in American history, “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God.” He said, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked:  His wrath towards you burns like fire; He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast in the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his sight, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”  That sermon helped start the Great Awakening but it’s easy to get the impression that God is just looking for the smallest excuse to cast us into the fire. The Bible, however, assures us of quite a different attitude in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”


At the other end of the spectrum is the Pushover God.  He’s got a softer heart than Santa Claus because, although He knows who’s been naughty and nice, He’s going to give everyone the Big Present: eternal life in Heaven.  People who share this view would ask, “How could a loving God send people to Hell?”  The answer is, of course, “He won’t!  God is love and love always forgives.”  However, the Bible teaches us in 2 Thess. 1:6-9, “God is just: … He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power”


A different variation of the pushover god, that is very popular today with preachers of the prosperity gospel, is the Sugar Daddy God.  God has everything and He loves us soooo much that He wants us to have everything we could ever want or need too.  For these believers, their favorite verse is James 4:2, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  Unfortunately for these people the next verse, James 4:3, also says: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”


So, what is God truly like?  Well, it has been said that, “if humans could understand God, He would not be God.”  There is truth in that.  God is more than our finite minds can grasp.  It’s not that He is confusing or hard to conceptualize.  God is simply beyond human understanding.  One of my favorite chapters in all the Bible is Job 38 where God is answering Job’s complaints out of a storm:   38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”  38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 38:11 “… This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?” 38:16-17 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?” 38:19-20 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?”  38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,” 38:35-36 “Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  God questions Job this way for two chapters, 71 verses, contrasting God’s infinite greatness with man’s finite smallness.


Although my feeble brain is unable to fully comprehend God, I am reassured by this.  I do not want to serve a god who is no greater than I.  Although God made us in His image, He is more than a super-duper version of humanity.  There is an awesome, otherness about God.  He is the supreme power in and the source of all existence. 


In God’s gracious understanding of our needs, He has given us some understanding about Him through His Word that we can hold on to.  Here are just a few of His attributes given to us in the Bible:  Infinite and eternal (Col. 1:17), unchanging (Mal. 3:6), all-powerful (Psalm 33:6), all-knowing (Isa. 46:9-10), everywhere-present (Psalm 139:7-10), wise (Rom. 11:33), faithful (Deut. 7:9), good (Psalm 34:8), just (Deut. 32:4), merciful (Rom. 9:15-16), gracious (Psalm 145:8), loving (1 John 4:7-8), holy (Rev. 4:8), and glorious (Hab. 3:4).  Obviously, there are many more listed and shown in the pages of scripture as well.  This is just the beginning of our knowledge about our amazing God!


Only by Grace!


Pastor Mike