My picture of God Part 2
Here now I will try and paint a picture of the God that I believe in.
God it eternal. He is the basic Fact of all existence. He created all out of the wellspring of his creativity. He created personal beings as well. We know of the Angels and we know of Humanity. There could be more, but we are not told. So far as our story is concerned these are the only two free willed beings created. This begs the question, why were the angels and humans created? The answer is short yet profound on the deepest level. Love. We are told that one of the attributes of God is love. Perfect love. A quality we as humans can only experience distorted reflections of.
The best example I can think of out of human experience is my son Adrian. Megan and I have a truly fantastic relationship. We know each other and delight in each other on a very deep level. In that sense our love is quite deep. As our marriage progressed we continued to feel the desire to welcome a new life into our relationship. A son was born. Our love for each other and for Adrian has increased. Love gives. Love is beautiful. God is Love.
So far the story is quite nice. God is Love and he created us out of Love for Love. Gives you the warm fuzzies, ay? But can Love be real if there is no possibility to reject it? If I could insert a chip into my wife and have her respond to me with love at ALL times would that be love? Or would that simply be me doing what I want through her body? True love requires freedom. It requires risk. It requires a choice.
We are told the choice to reject God was first made in the heavenly realms by the most beautiful angel of them all. That is to say his potential, for good was the greatest of all created beings. Likewise his potential for going wrong was the inverse of his potential for good. He chose to try and make himself like God, to create for himself his own standard of conduct. His focus turned inward. He and a host of other angles rebelled.
God also created man. How and when we were created is a story I will leave for another time. Again we were created to delight in God and for him to delight in us. We are told that man quickly chose not to trust God and to go his own way. This breach of trust is known as the fall of man. In the time before the fall God walked amongst men. The relationship was one of unspeakable beauty. Man was given dominion over all the earth. He was placed in the seat of authority. The whole earth was his to rule. Yet since man chose not to trust God that relationship was broken — by man's free choice.
The dominion that Man was given over all the earth was forfeited. Satan now took dominion. The scripture writers tell us that Satan is the prince of this world and the god of this age. God is shown throughout history as genuinely warring against him, though we are also told the end of the story is assured.
The ensuing history of man recorded in the Bible shows man continually ignoring God and wreaking incredible horrors on each other in the process, but at the same time God is shown continually pursuing us. A very small remnant is shown as hearing his voice and responding to him. What do they hear from God? I love you. Love me by obeying me. Be holy as I am holy. Repent of your sins and I will forgive you. Soon you hear echoes of a far distant future. There will come one who will ransom man from his bondage. This verse was penned by Isaiah 700 years before the birth of Jesus.
See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him —
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 52:13-15 - 53:1-12 NIV
700 years later the God of all creation slipped into this world as one of it's own. The God who set the stars in the heavens became one of the most vulnerable of all his creation — a human child. He grew in strength and knowledge and around the age of thirty he began his ministry. He was tempted by Satan in the desert. Satan recognized him but he did not know why he had come. Jesus then came out against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He warred against sickness and demon possession. He embraced the rejected of society. He met people where they were. He saw a need, He met the need, He told them the kingdom of heaven was near. He was filled with compassion and love, but he warned of the fate of those who rejected God. He warned of the fate of those who rejected Him.
Those in power found a way to have Jesus arrested. In the ensuing trial they pressed Jesus regarding his identity. The high priest asked him "are you the Christ, the Son of God?" Jesus replied, "It is as you say". Charged with blasphemy they turned him over to the Romans to be tortured and hung on a cross. We can imagine Satan's jubilation (perhaps active part in said act) as the one who frustrated his desires for power is brutally tortured and killed. He has defeated whatever it was God had come to accomplish. (This is just me here, I could be wrong)
As evil cannot understand the act of sacrificing for love, so also, Satan was blind to the sacrificial love God showed in His death. (There is much mystery here. I do not understand much of it)
Three days later the God of this world walked out of the tomb and demonstrated his mastery over death, effectively defeating Satan's hold on this world and ransoming humanity from his grasp. For us to be reconciled to God a price had to be paid. God paid it for us. Though we rejected him and became filled with all manor of jealousy and pride, he continued to fight for us. He did not come here to leave us as he found us. He came to give us life in it's fullest. He came to start a new work. For those who fall down in gratitude before him he begins a personal transformation.
He started a new work in me 8 years ago. As I have continued to seek him and follow him I have been changed bit by bit each day. My desire for self pleasure has decreased, while my love for others, even those I find very distasteful has increased. In my old life I sought any possible avenue to justify my actions. As I have come to understand God's unceasing love for me, all I can do now is seek ways to honor Him out of my helpless gratitude for my undeserved position as his adopted son.
He is love. He is beauty. All evil is the result of a violation of his character. He is love. He is beauty.