God is like ………?

Sometimes in life something just comes and slaps you around the face and then proceeds to turn your world upside down. This happened to me about 7 or 8 years ago, I was generally quite content with my Christian life, was actively involved in a church and on the whole things were not too bad. Then, bam, it hit me, I had been in church for about 50 years and somehow I had missed this, either that or it had never really been taught …………………. God is like Jesus! Once I realised the truth of this it began to turn my theology inside out and upside down.

Brian Zahnd a Pastor from St Jospeh, Miossouri puts it like this:

God is like Jesus.
God has always been like Jesus.
There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.
We have not always known what God is like—
But now we do.
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In John 1 v 4-7 we read of an exchange between Philip and Jesus, Philip asks Jesus to “… show us the Father”. Jesus responds, ” ….. he who has seen me has seen the Father”

Hebrews 1v3 speaking of Jesus says that he is “…the express image of His (God/The Father) person,”

Colossians 1 v 15 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God

Jesus says in John 12 v 45 he who has seen me has seen God who sent me

John 5 v 19 – Jesus says that the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He (The Father) does, the Son also does in like manner.

Jesus is saying that he is the image, the representation, the likeness of God the Father and that when we see Jesus we see God. When we describe Jesus we are describing God. When we see Jesus act, we see God act and Jesus specifically said that he does what he sees the Father doing. In other words if we want to know what God is like, how he acts and what he does or doesn’t do then we must look at the Jesus. We have to continually ask the question of actions attributed to God, is that something I could see Jesus doing?

What do we see in Jesus, we see love, compassion, we see a healer (or restorer), we see someone who identifies with the down and out, the sick, the infirm, the undesirable and the traitor. We see a giver of life not a dealer in death, we see someone who unconditionally forgives and even asks for forgiveness for those who tortured and crucified him. After his resurrection Jesus did not seek revenge on those who killed him but he came back proclaiming peace. In Christ we see no thought of retribution or violence only peace, love and forgiveness; and God is like Jesus.

Death is the Gate to Life

I was told by one of the locals who saw me looking at this church gate that it is only used for funerals and that the locals use a separate entrance for regular services. The inscription over the gate reads “Death is the Gate to Life”. Inside the gateway is another inscription which reads “When after a few years are come then shall I go the way whence I shall not return, Job XVI CH 22 V” In this context the words speak of life after (physical) death, eternal life as spoken of in the scriptures.

St Denys Church. Cold Ashby

I have passed by this gate several times while cycling around the Leicestershire / Northamptonshire area (You can just see my bike in the bottom right hand if the photo to the left), I always stop and ponder the words but I have never thought of them as having to do with physical death. I have always considered the words in another way.

If we really want to live then paradoxically we must first die. What do I mean by that? Jesus had a phrase for this, he called it being “Born Again”. I know that that those words have some negative connotations for some people, but we cannot get away from the fact that being “Born Again” is a central facet of the Christian Experience. It’s not all about going to heaven when you die though, it’s about starting to live a real authentic life here and now. In fact if your focus on being born again is just about going to heaven when you die then you have missed so much of what Jesus came to show us about living life here and now.

When we are “Born Again” we become the person that God intended us to be, the Apostle Paul described it as becoming a New Creation, others call it becoming Authentic or real. We are not just changed but the person we were has to die and then we have a new life in the identity that God always wanted us have from the beginning and that is an identity framed by Love. Jesus showed us what Love looks like when he spoke what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. He said, Love your enemy, bless those who persecute you, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and so on. That is when we truly begin to live, when we express God’s Love to those around us and see Christ in others. Life is only really lived when we live in an attitude of love, this can mean the acceptance of people who do not conform to our personal views of what is acceptable morally, sexually or socially; it might mean being willing to give up time and money to help someone who we would ordinarily think doesn’t deserve our attention; it can mean forgiving someone for a hurt or wrong that they have done to us. In seeing Christ in “the others” and accepting them and serving them in Love as we would Christ we then truly start to live. Life after death here and now.

Strangely, we do not hear much these days about dying to self in order to live, I wonder why?

A Faithful God

I admit that I often struggle with the Christian Faith

I struggle to read the word of God regularly

I struggle to pray regularly

I struggle to Love others as the Bible teaches me to

I struggle to live by faith

I struggle with the temptations of this world

I have wanted at times to give and go my own way

BUT

There is nowhere else to go

There is no-one else reliable and trustworthy enough to put my Trust in

There is no other Truth but in God, through Christ alone

Even when I feel that God is against me, there is no-one else to go to, but to Him (Psalm 60)

Even when I fail and am not faithful to Him, He shows how great He is by His Faithfulness to me (Romans 3v1-8)