Many think of God more as a force than a person who we can know and enjoy. The God of whom Jesus spoke is not like the impersonal Force in Star Wars, whose goodness is measured in voltage. Neither is He some great unsympathetic bogeyman in the sky, delighting in making our lives miserable.
On the contrary, God is relational like us, but even more so. He thinks, He hears. He communicates in language we can understand. Jesus told us and showed us what God is like. According to Jesus, God knows each of us intimately and personally, and thinks about us continually.
And Jesus told us that God is loving. Jesus demonstrated God's love wherever he went, as he healed the sick and reached out to the hurting and poor.
God's love is radically different from ours in that it is not based upon attraction or performance. It is totally sacrificial and unselfish. Jesus compared God's love with the love of a perfect father. A good father wants the best for his children, sacrifices for them, and provides for them. But in their best interests, he also disciplines them.
Jesus illustrates God's heart of love with a story about a rebellious son who rejected his father's advice about life and what is important. Arrogant and self-willed, the son wanted to quit working and "live it up." Rather than waiting until his father was ready to give him his inheritance, he began insisting that his father give it to him early.
In Jesus' story, the father granted his son's request. But things went bad for the son. After squandering his money on self-indulgence, the rebellious son had to go to work on a pig farm. Soon he was so hungry even the pig food looked good. Despondent and not sure his father would accept him back, he packed his bag and headed home.
Jesus tells us that not only did his father welcome him home, but he actually ran out to meet him. And then the father went totally radical with his love and threw a huge party celebrating his son's return.
It is interesting that even though the father greatly loved his son, he didn't chase after him. He let the son he loved feel pain and suffer the consequences of his rebellious choice. In a similar way, the Scriptures teach that God's love will never compromise what is best for us. It will allow us to suffer the consequences of our own wrong choices. Jesus also taught that God will never compromise His character. Character is who we are down deep. It is our essence from which all our thoughts and actions stem. So what is God like—down deep?
Throughout the Scriptures (nearly 600 times), God is spoken of as "holy." Holy means that God's character is morally pure and perfect in every way. Unblemished. This means that He never entertains a thought that is impure or inconsistent with His moral excellence.
Furthermore, God's holiness means that He cannot be in the presence of evil. Since evil is the opposite of His nature, He hates it. It's like pollution to Him.
But if God is holy and abhors evil, why didn't He make our character like His? Why are there child molesters, murderers, rapists, and perverts? And why do we struggle so with our own moral choices? That brings us to the next part of our quest for meaning. What did Jesus say about us?
Next: Chapter 3: What Did Jesus Say About Us? | Previous: Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | References
© 2010 JesusOnline Ministries. This article is a supplement to Y-Jesus magazine by Bright Media Foundation & B&L Publications: Larry Chapman, Chief Editor.
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