Here’s a big question. What is God like? I suppose this is the biggest question we can ask. It’s the most basic question facing anyone who attempts to worship or even just think about God. But how shall we answer the question? Is God like Zeus whose incited anger results in hurled thunderbolts? Is God like Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of prosperity from the Hindu pantheon? Is God like the comic white-bearded old man sitting behind a computer in a Far Side cartoon? Is God totalized Will-To-Power whose omnipotence controls every event in the universe? Is God the aloof and absent clockmaker of the eighteenth-century deists? Is God the amorphous everything and nothing of New Age spirituality? And so on.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that in times past glimpses of God were gained by the prophets, but with the coming of Christ and the consummation of salvation history, God has been revealed in his Son as “the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:1-3) The Apostle Paul describes Jesus as the icon of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) And Jesus himself told his disciples that to see him was to see the Father! (John 14:8-9) If the mystery of God is a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, the picture on the cover of the box is the face of Jesus! Jesus is the face of God. The spirit of Jesus is the disposition of God toward sinners. This is the beauty of the gospel.
We can use the Bible as our palette to paint a monstrous portrait of God if we want; but when we’re finished, if the image doesn’t look like Jesus, we have got it wrong! It’s a false and distorted portrait. God is not the thunderbolt-hurling god of anger from the Greek pantheon. God is not the sadistic tyrant from Puritan sermons who abhors sinners and dangles them over a fiery pit. God is exactly how Jesus depicted him in his most famous parable: a father who runs to receive, embrace, and restore a prodigal son.
God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We may not have always known this, but now we do.
If you really believed that God was just like Jesus, how would it change your relationship to God?