“WHAT are you like, God?” I said in my mind as I sat in a theology seminar. God didn’t answer. Not audibly on any account at all. But I mused that if God were to speak in a language that we know, he might say to us, “I’m incomprehensible to you, and always will be… as I have said, I am that I am.”
He might also say, “Does that help you?” And, (God already knowing our answer), we might otherwise say, “No, that doesn’t help much at all,” to which he might be expected to answer without an answer. Silence. We’re left in a conundrum.
But we’re looking in the wrong place for the answer. Perhaps the answer is self-evident in history. We look to the cross. We look to the resurrection. We take a look at Jesus’ life. We look to the Holy Spirit’s work in preparing the way of the Lord through the Prophets. We must also look to the Lord of Creation.
“What are you like, God?”
God says through the history of the world, in his Word, “Look at my Son.”
Jesus’ witness gives us some clues. Yet there is something of a limitation to how much we might know Jesus’ life. There are the limits of our understanding and there’s the limit to what might be understood. We read of Jesus’ compassion for the vulnerable so we know he’s compassionate. We read of Jesus’ merciful forgiveness so we know he’s gracious even (especially even) when he’s the one being assaulted. We read of Jesus’ grip on justice, so we know he’s righteous. We read of his miracles of healing, so we know he’s got divine power, and even actually Divine.
Our compassion, forgiveness and justice wavers, yet God’s never does. We have never seen God, but we have seen God’s works. We have never touched God, but he has touched us. And, though God has transformed us from old life to new, we have no idea how his power has wrought such a thing. As life is a mystery, so, it seems, is God. Yet creation tells us that God created the world and sustains it.
God has made himself known in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
Everything we know about God will line up in the Lord Jesus. God cannot disagree with himself. God is both simpler than we imagine — by far — and so far beyond our comprehension. God is the simplest being and comprehensive beyond comprehension. More completely mysterious than any concept or thing, ever. But realer than anything.
We can know God if we know Jesus, but we cannot know Jesus unless we read and study the Bible. God reveals Jesus to us through the Word. God reveals his will to us through prayer. All other things may be conjecture. But anytime we think we know God better than another person we ought to check our thinking.
The more we know about God the more we may feel we don’t know him at all. But that just makes us what to know him more.
We cannot know God unless we’ve been gifted a personal relationship with him. (A gift is given and it cannot be acquired any other way, so it’s no real credit to us.)
It’s a healthy question to continue to ask: “God, what are you like?”
The more we know the less we feel comfortable with what we know. And that’s okay. May God ever be a mystery. A thrill in the chase of wonder until life makes way for death and we hence met him face-to-face.
When we continue asking “God, what are you like?” we can expect to continue to be led by his Holy Spirit.
Oh, to know the Father’s Jesus,
And the gospels, trustworthy and true,
Oh, to know this Jesus,
And to follow him no matter what I do.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.