Jesus, Forgiveness, Healing, Grace, Mercy, Redemption are all words that are associated with Christianity but the understanding of them is being lost today's world.
What is God like?
This is an impossible question to answer with any certainty because only God himself is able to understand himself. The best we can ever say is 'God is like......'
In doing this, the first mistake to avoid is to think in terms of God being an 'object', he is more akin to being an intangible immeasurable 'subject' like Love or Eternity. We can talk about him, as we can about the subject of love, but, unless we have actually been in love, we don't really know what we are talking about.
However, we are able to piece together some insights as to what God may be like from clues God left for us in the Bible and from events in History,
The Old Testament of the Bible recounts a history of how God raised a nation of civilised people, known as the Jews, who prospered when they followed his advice and suffered when they did not. Judaism, and it's later development into Christianity, springs from a history of 'God seeking and communicating with Mankind'. In this way they both differ from the many other World Religions that have each developed more on the lines of 'Mankind, using their own ideas, to define what God is like'. If required, Click here to read further notes on 'Christianity, Uniqueness and Why'
If you Reader can accept this line of thought of 'God seeking Man' a valid next stage is to examine how God has revealed himself to mankind from time to time. The opening verses of the New Testament book entitled 'Hebrews' is interesting, it says - "Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face-to-face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son ....."
It follows on from this that, if we want to know what God is like, we must examine some of the things Jesus is recorded as having said. On a number of occasions Jesus called God Father (Abba) and encouraged us to do the same. Then in John's Gospel there is a report of a conversation between Jesus and the disciple Philip where - "Philip said, “Sir, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Don’t you even yet know who I am, Philip, even after all this time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see him?" (John 14 : 8 &9 Living Bible)
So if we want to know what God is like we need look no further than Jesus himself.
Click here to read the Chapter ‘Who is this Jesus’ and its extensions if required.
Jesus coming to live among us reminds me of a story of a man with his young son walking along a country lane. They discovered an anthill that had been partly destroyed by a passing cart wheel. The nest was in disarray with the older ants trying to save the un-hatched eggs that had been exposed to danger. The young boy became very disturbed and asked his father how they could help. The father’s answer was that only by becoming an ant could he hope to help.
This story illustrates one part of Jesus' quest in coming to earth as a man, he become an object that we can focus our thoughts upon and thus help us partly understand the none understandable.
But, besides this Christian approach to what God may be like there has been much differing speculation elsewhere over the years and yet God has never yet, not surprisingly, been defined with any clarity. The Muslims think of him as 'Master' and the Jews treat God with such reverence that many of them will not even pronounce the name. So definitions of what God may be like are as numerous as there are opinions, with mine being no better than yours Reader. The only advice I can give is to repeat what I wrote earlier - We must not make the mistake of thinking of God as an Object (like we can Jesus). God, the creator of our Universe is neither a He or a She and is, for example, far more splendid than the inside of a Nuclear reactor.
However the wonderful thing is this, although God is such an intangible subject, God's loving presence can be experienced within our very being and be just as real as our other emotions such as fear or ecstasy. Reader, understand this important point - it's not necessary to believe in God's existence to have a personal experience his love. In fact it's such an experience of his unconditional love that helps us to be sure of his existence. It's the sort of experience that can make strong, tough men cry for a reason not apparent to those watching.
Such a experience of God's love is unlike any other because it's source is, not from ourselves, but is supernatural and yet undeniable by those who have gone through it. It is this experience that makes 'First-hand Christianity' so unique among the many world religions that are available to choose from.
The difference between First and Second-hand Christianity is discussed in more detail in another Chapter but can be jumped to now if required.
Click here to read 'First and Second-hand Christianity'
Click here to read the next Chapter ‘Where is God?’
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