Does Jesus Rescue God?

We saw in our previous posts in this series (1, 2, 3) that what we believe about God, his character, his heart towards us, shapes everything else in our life and faith.  In this post, because of that, let’s draw our eyes towards the Lord and see what He is really like. Let’s see what he thinks about you. Is He just putting up with us, tolerating us?  Is he just watching from Heaven, waiting to jump on us after every little mistake? Let’s find out.

How do we know what God is like? John 1:18 tells us: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” So, how do we know what God the Father is like? Jesus reveals Him! We cannot know God apart from Jesus. He is the exact representation of His nature. That is a very important point for us.

That means there is not some unkind, ugly god lurking in the dark somewhere who is only holding back his hatred for us because of Jesus. No! God is, as I first heard from Glen Scrivener, “Jesus-shaped” from first to last. The famous poet, Lord Byron once said, “If God’s not like Jesus, He should be!” But, HE IS! That’s why Jesus has said, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father,” meaning you know what the Father is like because you see what I’m like. I’m the image of the invisible God. I only do what I see the Father doing…so when Jesus is loving us, he’s just doing what the Father is doing! He doesn’t have to rescue a cantankerous God…no, the Father is all loving!  I think this is where we get into a lot of trouble…

If you try to imagine God without Jesus, you are thinking of an idol. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. If you try to imagine God without Jesus, you are thinking of an idol. Michael Ramsey, former archbishop of Canterbury, put it this way, “God is Christlike, and in Him there is no unchristlikeness at all.”  God is Jesus-shaped!  In fact, let’s start to use that title “God” a lot less.  Instead, let’s talk about our loving Father and our brother and husband, Jesus, who has come to save us, and the Holy Spirit who makes all of the Father’s promises, which are YES in Jesus, true for us!

So, if we want to know what the Father thinks of us, and how he feels about us, how he is towards…we look to Jesus.  And that’s just what we’re going to do in the next post.

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Christians who don’t know God

Of course, after the previous post, you may be thinking, “I’m not Muslim,” so my view of God is just fine. While I hope so, I wanna push back. Do you know God? And by KNOW, I don’t mean a superficial, Sunday school awareness of a few stories from the Bible. It’s not a “I grew up in a Christian family” type of faith. Those kinds of faith are washed away when suffering comes, like a house built on sand.

And this is why I think this is SO SO SO important. If our faith isn’t truly our own OR if it’s inaccurate, then when sin prevails, when suffering comes, when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, what do we do? What happens when shallow faith meets deep suffering?

What happens if deep down we don’t believe that God is 100% good.  If we think he’s a “contract God,” who will only be good to us if we’ve first satisfied his demands.  If we wake up in the morning and think, “I better have a quiet time and pray or God won’t be pleased with me.”  Friends, that’s not the Gospel.  That’s not Christianity.  That’s not our God.

And, when suffering comes, it’s normal to hear statements/questions like, “If God were really loving, this wouldn’t have happened.” OR “What kind of God would do this, allow this?” Or as Woody Allen said, “If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.” Do you see it: The question at the center of each of these statements is “what is God like?”

And for Christians, maybe we haven’t walked away from the faith, but maybe we’ve just decided to partition our lives. What I mean is that we still believe in God, but we’ve made sure to guard the precious things in our lives from Him…because we’re just not sure we can trust him with our kids, our work, our calling, our finances, our ___________. And I think there are probably a lot of us here today living in that reality.

We say, “I just can’t handle it if that happens again. I can’t do that again. Please, not again… please.” And at that point, God isn’t even in our thoughts…at that point, he’s somewhere, we still believe, but we almost dare not ask again where He fits in all this. That feels like it would just make it all harder, it would hurt just a little bit more…This is the danger of Shallow Faith colliding with Deep Suffering.

Can we really say with the hymnist, “…when all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay”?  I think this is a question with eternal ramification and for some of us, it’s a life-and-death issue.

Do you remember that our view of God will determine our life with Him?  It will shape our faith, our prayers, our mission, our view of the Bible, our view of the Church.  If we Christians are walking about with this amount of ambiguity about the character and goodness of God, then weep for the world!  Weep for the Church!  What a sad situation we find ourselves in.  It must change.  In the next post, we’ll turn out eyes to the one, true and living God, and it WILL make all the difference.

What about you?  In the comments below, please share where you’re at with God.

Your prayers to a false god

So, to help us understand how important it is to rightly understand our good God, we’re going to look at a false god.  We’re going to ask, “How does that god’s character affect the lives and prayers of his people?”  And what we’re going to see is that it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

We’re going to look at the god of Islam.  We’ll use the name Allah even though that name was first used by Christians in the Arab World before Mohammad was born and still used by Christians today.  Just know that I am speaking about the god revealed in the Koran, the god of Islam.

The God of Islam/the Koran – Allah
What is he like? The first thing most Muslims will tell you about Allah is this: You cannot know Allah, you can only know his will. You cannot know him…only what he wants from you. If you somehow get to paradise, he will not be there. Relationship with you has never been on his agenda.   Before he created, Allah was a solitary monad, a lone deity. He was utterly alone. So, at his core, he’s not a relational deity…only after creating did he even have someone with whom to relate if he wanted to…but he doesn’t…that’s not bashing Islam…that’s classic, orthodox Islamic teaching.  This is Allah.
What is his mission? The all-consuming idea of Islam is that Allah has a sovereign will for the world and eventually all must submit to him. Islam literally means “submission”. Muslims literally means “one who submits”. So, Allah’s mission is Sharia law. That every country on the planet would be under his law.
What, then, does godliness look like? Obedience. Pure obedience. Having said that, in another sense, if we ask, what would it be like to be like this god (what would godlikeness look like for humanity), it gives us another window into how important this is? To be like Allah would mean we dominate, we rule as many others as possible, we cause others to submit to us. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to see that this view of god results in these kinds of behavior.
How does that shape prayer/ communion with Allah? Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times a day. These prayers are scripted for you. They must be said in Arabic even if you can’t speak Arabic. So, is prayer for relationship? No. Would you ever call this god “Father” or “Friend”? No, and he wouldn’t want you to. Is this the god of all comfort? No.   Is this a god to whom you can claim his promises? No, actually, one of his names in the Koran is the Deceiver. The man who took over leadership of the Muslim community after the death of Mohammed, named Abu Bakr, said this, “I would not feel safe from the deception of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.” Will you plead his promises to him? No. In prayer, will the peace of this god guard your heart and mind? No.

Do you see how the god you pray to makes all the difference? And we could look at any god and do this…we could look at Zeus, we could look at Shiva, we could look at the false god of Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The shape of the god you believe in determines everything else in your religion (prayer, scripture, mission, fellowship, community, etc.) and your life!  The next post will ask us, “Christians, do you know your God?”