What is God like?
It’s a question most people ask themselves at some point in their lives, and a question we spend quite a bit of time looking at during the Discipleship Training School. Our ideas of what God is like come from so many different places: school, family, media, Sunday school, etc and so often we don’t even know whether our beliefs about who God is are even Biblical.
A friend of mine is an atheist and a few months ago, as we were hanging out over dinner, I got to talk to him about if God existed what he might be like. In our conversation it soon became clear that the picture my friend had of who God is, came from the primary school he’d gone to. Somehow he’d picked up that the God Christians worship is an old patriarchal figure in the sky that held a big stick. Consequentially, my friend was entirely uninterested in knowing that kind of God. Not very surprising – I’m not sure I would be interested in spending time with that kind of God either. When I told him that my understanding of what God is like was quite different he started getting quite interested. I told him of how God is the truest, noblest, purest, loveliest, most admirable and excellent of beings and of how all he is and does is in love. At the end of our conversation, my friend said that he’d been given a lot to think about and that his idea of what God is like maybe wasn’t quite good enough. And isn’t that the case for all of us – maybe our idea of what God is like just maybe isn’t quite good or big enough?
I found a few years ago that often when I used to pray I would declare how God is good and faithful, he’s loving and amazing. And that’s where it would stop – I didn’t have much else to say about who God is. So I would start over again: ‘God you’re good, faithful, loving and amazing’. But the truth is of course, that God is so much more. So I started looking for what the Bible says about what God is like, and I was overwhelmed with how many different words are used to describe him. It says God is honourable, glorious, the rock, the teacher, the protector, our help, compassionate, just, sure, our redeemer, wise, joy, our deliverer, etc. And I started looking for how God shows himself to be like that in my life. Where have I seen that God is compassionate? How have I experienced that God is my help? When do I know that God is my joy?
I’d like to encourage you to expand your vocabulary and experience of who God is. To get to know a new and different aspect of who he is and experience a new part of his character. And if you’re stuck for ideas I’d recommend starting with reading the Psalms. They are just littered with descriptions of God’s nature and character!
– Emma Wagner