From an email newsletter by Ken Legg (Set Free Ministries, AUS). Hope it challenges & blesses you!
Every week, from pulpits across the world, images of God are being carved out in the minds of millions of people. Often those images are gross misrepresentations of what God is like. He is portrayed as legalistic, judgmental, vindictive, etc. People go home from meetings believing in a God who is a figment of someone else’s imagination. Just because they have heard an angry preacher they come to believe in an angry God. Naturally, they want to run and hide from this God.
There is a very important reason why God forbade His people from making images that were supposed to represent Him. It’s this – whatever image of God a person attempts to create they are going to get it so wrong! Man cannot draw from the polluted resources of his heart and the darkness of his mind and expect to come up with an accurate representation of God. But religious culture and church tradition have done exactly this and have played a major role in the distortion of the truth about God.
God is not known by human reason but by divine revelation. And that’s what happened at Christmas. God revealed Himself to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the Eternal Word, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He is fully God. But at that first Christmas the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father – full of grace and truth. John says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him” (John 1:18). Philip once said to Jesus, “You’ve been talking so much about the Father – show Him to us!” Jesus replied, “He that has seen me has seen the Father!”
Because of the incarnation we are no longer left wondering what God is like. Jesus is the brightness of His glory and the exact representation of His image! That’s why we need to read the gospels, because they unveil God to us through the beautiful life of Jesus. We need the epistles to understand the Christian life; but we need the gospels to understand God. Jesus sets our thinking straight about what God is really like. For example:
- There are many things I don’t understand about sickness, but when I look at the healing ministry of Jesus I am clear about what God thinks of sickness!
- I know God’s thoughts when I struggle with sin when I see the way Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery, and how sinners felt at ease in His presence. When a sick person goes to see a doctor he doesn’t shout at him and tell him off for being sick! He treats him and helps him to get well.
- I only have to look at how Jesus cared about children to know God’s heart for these little ones
- I know, by looking at the way Jesus exhorted and encouraged Thomas through his doubts, that God doesn’t condemn me when I wrestle with uncertainty
- And how does the Father feel towards the backslider who is wallowing in mire in the far country? Read Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The father waiting and longing for his son to return, then running to meet him is their Father yearning after them. Remember, he had no words of reprimand and no probationary period for the returning son – only rings, robes and a fatted calf!