He is the most maligned and slandered person to ever exist, but there is something that most people don’t take into account when doing so; and that is that He cannot or will not go against His own nature.
So what is the nature of God? Is He the lovable cosmic Santa Claus that some believe Him to be? Or is He the angry punisher that others believe? Or is His nature something else entirely?
Although, I truly believe that no human can ever truly understand the nature of God; I will try here to convey my idea of His nature. Like C.S. Lewis said, that he didn’t write because he had all of the answers, instead he wrote to try and put into order his thoughts about any given issue. I believe that I do have a basic understanding of the nature of God, and I know that I can and should credit C.S. Lewis for a large portion of it. I believe he did a marvelous job at conveying the nature of God through his character of Aslan. I could almost just stop there.
Well, let me see if I can put into words what I believe God’s nature to be. Or should I say, a minuscule portion of the nature of God, for He is much more than what I will say in this post. So, here is my little drop in the ocean.
Here is a list of titles or names that He is called, each one reflects a personality trait that He does possess, however each one by itself may not necessarily bring us closer to understanding His nature. That list is way too long for me to try and explain individually. So, I am going to mention just a few of them.
He is The Creator; as such He must be an artist as well as a scientist. Yes, you heard me correctly. God is the ultimate scientist, but not the crazy tousle-haired madman like Dr. Frankenstein that so many people think Him to be. He is not like a human scientist at all. He is not the ultimate experimenter; instead He creates from a position of knowing the end result before He even begins. Whether he created the universe in six literal days, which I believe He could do if He wanted; or if He took thousands of years to do it, is not crucial to our understanding of His nature. There is no point in being dogmatic and arguing this point, as the Bible itself states that one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day for Him. So either way, what is important is that He is the Creator.
So, what can we learn about His nature as the Creator? He planned ahead. He designed what He wanted, and then He brought it to life. We don’t know if He actually sat down and made a literal design on something like paper; or now that we know about digital and virtual design, He might have used something like that or something further advanced that we have yet to discover. Or He might have simply planned it all out in His mind. The fact is that He planned it out and then executed His plan in whatever manner He thought to be best. Anyone who has painted a picture, or drawn an architectural design, or even written a book, has some idea of what it means to plan something and then bring it to life. This is the nature of The Creator.
Mothers and fathers also create life in a way, even though they cannot do it alone. In the same way, regardless of your belief about the Trinity, God shares some characteristics with a human mother and father, and can therefore understand what it means to be a mother or a father. All of creation is His baby, and each one of us individually belongs to Him. We can further say that He has copyright over us. Not in a creepy slave-owner way, because He has given us free-will, and we can accept Him or reject Him. But He does have a vested interest in us and in our welfare. Some of the analogies dealing with the nature of God are done so by using the picture of a family. In other words, He set up the very concept of family in order to help us understand His nature. We all have an idea of what the perfect family would look like, no matter how dysfunctional our family might be in actual fact. Deep down we know what a family is supposed to look like. It is precisely because the family is a snapshot of the nature of God, that the very idea of family is receiving such a tremendous attack in these latter days.
When I was a child, I thought that God the father was; well, the father. Jesus was the child, and the Holy Spirit was the mother of the family. Although the Bible never describes God in the above terms, in my childlike mind, it was what made the most sense. I no longer view them exactly like that, because I have found out that it is much more complicated than that. The doctrine of the trinity, in my opinion, is a very simplistic attempt at defining a more complex matter. In other words, I don’t think the accepted view of the trinity is entirely correct. Note that I said entirely. I am not a “Jesus Only” or a “Jehovah’s Witness”, as I do believe in the three distinctive personalities of the trinity; however, I still believe that there is something lacking in the doctrine. Especially, when you read John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, both of which I believe with all my heart to be true. I am just saying; we as humans cannot understand everything about the nature of God; I believe there to be way more to the story than what we currently are able to know. There is much information that has not been made available to us, yet.
We have all heard of God the Father and Jesus the son. The book of Hosea shows us God as the faithful husband who is married to a prostitute. None of us are exempt from playing the part of the prostitute in this picture. Each of us, have at some time or other committed adultery by seeking another husband (god or idol – the god of our own self is the most common). He has had to endure countless times of unrequited love by His creations, us.
About this whole analogy of God as the husband: We, not as individuals, but as a collective are said to be his wife. To be precise, in the book of Hosea, it is the nation of Israel that is His wife, and it is the nation of Israel that has been unfaithful to their God, whoring after other gods. Let me be clear, though; the analogy of God as a husband and Jesus as the bridegroom can be taken too far. I am really tired of Christians who act like gushing lovesick teenage girls when referring to the person of Jesus Christ. I believe it to be highly disrespectful and exceedingly inappropriate. I mean its one thing for a girl or woman to have fallen in love with a flesh and blood Jesus 2000 years ago, even as I am sure many of the women did in Jesus’ day. We know that Mary, Lazarus’ sister did, but that was before he died on the cross and before she could fully understand who he was. After we understand who He is, then our love for him has to be different, more respectful. He is not a substitute for Justin Bieber, nor is He someone about whom a person should have any kind of sexual fantasy. Our love for Him must be more of a brotherly or fatherly love, or the kind of love that a creature has for its creator; otherwise it can become quite sordid and improper.
Another of His characteristics is that He is Just. Being just does not mean the same thing that we humans think of as being synonymous with the word, fair. If He were fair, He would give each of us the same and treat each of us in exactly the same way. That is not what happens though. God is not fair, He is Just. This means that He gives each of us what we need, and not what we want, and not the same that He gives to our neighbor, because our neighbor has a whole different set of needs. Aslan said it best when he answers Shasta in The Horse and His Boy, when the boy asks him what happened to Aravis, “No one is told anyone’s story but their own.” In other words, we are not to compare our lot with anyone else’s, because their needs are not our own. We can be sure that He will deal with each of us justly and deservedly, according to our needs and according to our own choices, actions and the state of our hearts.
As the mother of three sons, I can say that I don’t have the same relationship with each one. When they were very little, I tried to treat them all the same, but I quickly learned that what worked with one son did not work at all with next son, and the third son was entirely different from the first two. They were not carbon copies of each other. Instead, my relationship varies according to the nature of each of my sons and what they need and want from me.
The following are a few of the things that He takes into account when dealing with us:
- How much do we love Him?
- Do we keep His commandments?
- How much do we want and allow Him to be a part of our lives?
- What is the state or condition of our heart? What is our attitude? If we forgive, we shall be forgiven. If we are generous, generosity will be shown towards us. Whatever measuring rod we use to measure others, that is the same measuring rod with which He will measure us. Our attitude, our thoughts and our actions determine the treatment that we will receive from Him. This is a very big part of the nature of God. If we show mercy, we will be shown mercy.
This is where the message of the Gospel becomes real.
There is no one who is exempt from sin, accordingly each one of us deserves to burn in hell. I know that most of you will say that is too harsh, but consider this. Be honest. How many of you have encountered people who you believe don’t deserve your love? Think about it. I am sure that you can readily think of at least one person who you say you have done all you can for that person; they have gone too far, and they have taken too much advantage of your kindness, or that you will no longer enable them, etc. You wash your hands of them, kick them out of your house and out of your life and are done with them. Thank God that He does not give us what we deserve, for He is merciful and just to forgive us our sins.
Fortunately for us, He can see the state of our hearts. He knows when we are truly repentant, and when we are putting on a show or being manipulative to get our own way. He deals harshly with those who are not sincere, but for those of us who sincerely love Him with all of our hearts, He is most merciful and loving.
It is because of this that He said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Yes, twice; once in Malachi 1:3 and again in Romans 9:13, God states that He hated Esau, also known as Edom. So much for those who claim that God does not hate anyone. Malachi 1:6-7 makes it clear that this is His response when He is treated with contempt by people who do not honor Him.
So then, why did He love Jacob? Because Jacob started out being interested in God and desiring His blessing; in fact, Jacob would do whatever he had to do in order to get it. Jacob wanted a relationship with God more than anything, while Esau was only interested in his own self and had no use for God or His commandments. By the way, Cain was just like Esau in this respect; and it is why God rejected his offering of vegetables, because Cain had no use for God’s commandments; but that is a topic for another post.
I think this is quite a reasonable response on God’s part, don’t you? We have this misconception that God should love us in spite of our ongoing contempt for Him and for His commandments. In spite of our putting ourselves in the place of more importance than Him, in spite of seeking any manner of substitute for God without being willing to come to Him directly. And yet, how many of us are quick to kick to the curb anyone who treats us with contempt and disrespect? How long do you continue to speak to someone who refuses to speak to you? And again I say, by the same measuring stick that we measure will we be measured.
So. God is Just. He is the Creator, artist and scientist. He is a family already without us, but He is willing to incorporate us into His family. God is love and He is merciful. He is also much, much more than this.
I leave you with this video, not because it especially relates to this post, although it does in a way. But because I recently listened to it again after many years, and I was struck by how impacting it is. Even after all of these years, it has the ability to reduce me to tears. It is from the Jesus People era of the 70’s. My father used to put it on the tape recorder in my room when he tucked me in at night, for me to listen to as I fell asleep. Well, not just this song, he made me listen to many songs from that era. I am very grateful, because you can literally feel the presence of God in so many of the songs from that time. I would say definitely more so than songs of today.