I began this blog to meet with people who have been rejected or devalued by the church. I wanted to tell you that Jesus and the church are not the same thing. I wanted to tell you of the love God has for you and that there will always be room for you in His family.
Rejection brings hurt. It also can bring misconceptions of who God is and what He is like. We often assume God is like those in the church that spew hatred, marginalize you and claim that you have messed up too badly for God to welcome you back.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I want to show you who He is, what He is like and how He wants to relate to you. Over the next several blogs, I want to introduce you to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You will be amazed!
Can we know what God is like?
No, and Yes. There is much about God that is beyond our comprehension but there also is much we can know. There are two entries in the New Testament that tells us what He is like. The first is a statement from Jesus when asked how anyone can know God if never seen Him. Jesus answered, ‘if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ Jesus was saying that if you want to know what God is like just look at Him. When we look at Jesus we never see rejection, condemnation nor devaluing. We do see acceptance, love, power and sacrifice.
The second entry is in response to Jesus being criticized for hanging out with those the ‘good’ people looked down on. In response to the criticism Jesus told three stories the third being the most famous story He ever told. We know it as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. You can read it in Luke 15:11-32. This story tells us what God is like as He relates to all people.
The two natures of God
For theologians, there are two aspects of God’s nature. There is the great, all-powerful, all knowing, ever present God and there is the God that Jesus came to tell us about. Along with all the greatness, power and presence He is also a Father. A kind and loving Father. This is what I want to explain to you.
Admittedly, it is difficult to picture God as both all powerful, all knowing and a dad at the same time. The way I understand it is represented by the picture above. It is a picture of John F. Kennedy playing with his children in the oval office of the White House. He is still the President of the most powerful country on earth and the red phone that he could use to destroy the world is just a few feet away. All of that remains true.
But he is also a father playing with his children. He is relating to them not as the President but as their dad. The powerful president is applauding the play of his children. And you can be sure his children are not relating to him as President, but as daddy. They are not calling him Mr. President, not approaching him as the most powerful man on earth. While he is both those things, more importantly he is daddy.
The story Jesus told gives us the best picture we have of God as our father.
We tend to think this is a story about the one son. But the story starts with, ‘A father had two sons.’ The story is about the father. Jesus wanted us to see the father in the story and how he related to his sons [us].
The story goes bad fast when the one boy asks for his inheritance early. He’s not willing to wait for his father to die. How painful that must have been for the father. Amazingly, the father agrees, splits the property between his sons and off goes the boy.
It goes well for the boy until the money runs out and a famine hits. The money is gone, the friends are gone and the party is over. He gets a job feeding pigs and the pigs have more to eat than he does. That a wake-up call and he decides to go home hoping his father will give him a job. It’s the best he can hope for.
Now the story turns to the father. While the boy was still a ways from home, the father sees him. Excited to see his son, he runs to him, hugs him. The boy tries to apologize, explain himself but the father isn’t listening. Instead, he tells his servants to bring him clean clothes, and the family ring. Then dad throws a party, a huge party. It’s time to celebrate! My son has come home!
The older brother is not particularly impressed but we will talk about that later.
Ten attributes of God
I have found ten attributes of God as Father in this story. The way the father reacted to his son is how Father relates to us. Over the next several blog posts, I will explain these attributes and show you how they impact your life.
I know many of you who read this are deeply hurt. I want you to know that God, your Father, does not endorse that treatment. Some are so hurt that you have turned your back on God. I understand, but before you go away for good, please take the time to learn what He is really like and how He wants to relate to you. Reject Him if you must, but please don’t reject a misunderstanding of who He is.
God is not the church. He is not a spiteful God that some have shown through their words and actions. He is a perfect, loving father. I hope you will take this journey with me.
Next time: The compassionate father.