For sanity's sake, this entry is being divided into three parts.
I’ve been reading in Isaiah, a book I haven’t visited in awhile. I’ll tell you, one thing that’s always concerned me is the tendency to remake God in our own image. Now some of that, honestly, is people jumping headfirst into the “God made man in his image; and Man returned the favor” nonsense.
But I think for another good many of us, especially in Christendom, simply forget that God is a person. For whatever reason, in our efforts to know God and understand our own theology, we wind up making a giant list of what he must be like and how and why and why anything else cannot and should not be true.
So God becomes an algebraic equation to be solved, or a bizarre paranormal creature that sounds like a haunting of the X-Files.
I mean, honestly. You can make a list of everything you accurately know about your best friend. I guarantee they’ll still surprise you, or act out of character. Most people really don’t like it when you turn them into a project, a problem to be solved. No one wants to be that person who is always talked about but never talked to, blamed when something goes bad and ignored when it all goes right, made into a drone, or a tool to be used.
So, in all its unprofound glory, I say: God is a person. He has a mind, a will, a body, and a soul. He has emotions, desires, hates, passions, friends, family, and enemies.
God is a person.
I mean, according to Scripture he can grieve, cry, get mad, laugh, and stop talking. His Spirit can be moved, even though his nature does not change. He has arms and legs and a face; he wears a robe and crown. He carries a scepter when he sits on his throne, and when he goes to war he takes up helmet, armor, sword, bow, spear, and javelin. He sits between cherubim or rides on their backs; he can ride a horse—and he’s got a tattoo. He has hair thick as wool and bright eyes. He eats, drinks, sleeps (yes, I know he doesn’t need it; but our Creator rested on the seventh day, and Jesus slept in the boat), walks through walls, and is bound by neither time or space. He can be vulnerable and betrayed, he can show surprise (Gethsemane) and have his feelings hurt (betrayal hurts, guys). He is the Three-in-One who has tried in a thousand ways to describe who he is, what he’s like, and how he relates to us. He is not human, but that makes him no less a person.
In fact, if you read the Gospels, he can even bleed. Jesus could be hurt. He could get lost in a crowd. He could die. He could destroy Death itself.
One of my favorite questions in Scripture is from Isaiah: “Am I only a God nearby, and not a God far off?” A little later he adds, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the lowly and contrite.”
You’ll never wrap your head completely around God. You can’t do that with your own human best friend, so there is absolutely no reason to think that the magnificent Creator and Sustainer of the universe is ever going to be an exhausted topic where we’ve figured him all out. Your own mother can still surprise you. How much more so your Maker?
I think what boggles me is how frustrating it must be for God to try to describe himself. I know how hard it is for me, and I’m a far simpler person. Ask me about myself, and I’ll probably mumble around a minute and change the subject.
God spends several thousand years just warming up. And not in an arrogant way.
For starters: Creator, sustainer, provider, master, lord, commander, king, overseer of souls. Then, warrior, dread champion, conquering king, lover, bridegroom, king of kings, smoking pot (Genesis 12 or 15), lion of praise (Judah), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the I AM, the Fear of Isaac, the God of righteousness and strength; the glory of Israel; the redeemer, savior, friend, winepresser, avenger, Lord of justice, truth, faithfulness, everlasting kindness and compassion. He loves justice and prefers mercy and wants us to walk with him.
The whole of the universe can’t contain him, and somehow he squeezed his entire being into a human body alongside a human soul (both fully God, and fully man). He is humble and patient, full of everlasting lovingkindness; he is our great and glorious high priest who intercedes on our behalf (John 17; Hebrews 1-something). He is our counselor, advocate, comforter, confidence, consolation, and healer. He is to us father, groom, king, and brother, and kin.
And it is to this person that the writer of Hebrews points and says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Father.”
Which leaves us in a good place for next time...