Have you ever asked people, “What’s God like? Not your “church” definition, but for you personally, what is God like?”
You’ll get some surprising answers. Some people think God is like an angry parent. Nothing you do ever measures up and quick to scold you for failing to meet expectations. You never know whether you’ll get a hug or a spanking!
Some people view God as the “cosmic cop” waiting for you to cross the line, to violate the law, and come down hard to punish you! Others see God as “Santa Claus” who keeps a list of who’s naughty or nice — and checking it twice! Others see God as a “genie in a bottle” obligated to grant your every wish and desire. Still others view God as the creator who threw this world together, then vacated the premises to live trillions of light years away. Disinterested, uninvolved, He watches life unwind from a distance.
Here’s the deal. It really doesn’t matter what we think God is like or how we view God. What matters is who God really is, and what He is really like. We can be very sincere in our view of God, and be sincerely wrong.
During this Lenten season, my congregation is studying Rick Warren’s “40 Days of Prayer.” One of the things Pastor Rick points out is this difference of what we think God is like, and what God is really like. And in this study, Pastor Rick presents five amazing truths that we can know about God because God has revealed these truths about Himself in His Word, the Bible.
First, God is our Father. God desires an intimate, up-close personal relationship with Him. Jesus said, “Pray this way — “Our Father…” The Greek word for “father” is “Abba.” It translates as a term of endearment known around the world by every culture: “Daddy!” or “Papa.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross forgiving our sins, we can know the eternal God of the universe as our “Father!” That’s the relationship God desires with us!
Second, God is a caring Father! The Bible says we can cast every care, worry and burden upon God for He cares for us! (1 Peter 5:7) God wants us to experience His care in every area of our lives. Pastor Rick said, “If it’s big enough to worry about, then it’s big enough to pray about!” God is a caring Father. He is always sympathetic to our needs and cares enough to get involved.
Third, God is a consistent Father. His love for us is constant and unchanging. God’s love for us is not based on our performance, but on His character — which is love! God never breaks His promises and we can always count on Him to see us through.
Fourth, God is a close Father. God is not distant, absent or unavailable when you need Him. You never get a “busy signal” from God. He is always with us, each and every step of our lives. He never stops thinking about us, as we are always on His mind. Psalm 34:18 “God is close to the brokenhearted…” and Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Fifth, God is a competent Father. God can handle every problem and situation we bring to Him because nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) God can do it all!
There are still several weeks left before Easter. Why not finish this Lenten season studying who God is and what He is like, not from people’s views or opinions, but from God’s Word?
Such a study will motivate you to not just to learn about God — but to really know Him and build a relationship with Him as your Heavenly Father. There’s a world of difference between knowing about God and knowing God. The deep desire of God’s heart is that we know Him as our Father who is caring, close, consistent and competent. And He took the first steps by coming to the earth He created as Jesus Christ, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising from the dead.
Our step is to believe. To trust in that work of Jesus making Him our Lord and Savior. It’s a simple prayer of faith that profoundly changes your life both in the “here and now” and for all eternity!
The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.