Most people believe there is a God, but their descriptions of the Deity vary greatly. Aristotle called God, "The Prime Mover Unmoved." Plato, his teacher, considered God to be "The Universal Mind." Deists acknowledge God to be the Creator, but believe this God is now indifferent to the affairs on Earth. Some sentimentalists picture God as a great "Santa Claus up there". Others of more Puritanical persuasion, see God as a "Resident Policeman," ready to punish every wayward act. Pantheists describe God as "the manifestation of everything in the universe." Those are just a few of the various definitions of God that different religions and philosophies offer.
So what does Christianity teach about God?
I will not bore you with lofty theological terms such as omniscience, omnipotence or omnipresence. Jesus never used those words. His favorite word for God was "Abba, or Father, the word a child would use for a beloved, trusted parent.
However, we learn even more about God from the life and actions of Jesus. John tells us that Jesus is God's Word made flesh, so we can see what grace and truth really mean. When Philip asked about God, Jesus answered, "whoever has seen me has seen the Father ... I am in the Father, and the Father is in me." (John 14:9,10). This amazed his followers. The apostle Paul would later write of Jesus, "in him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell." Col.1:19) And again of Jesus "in him, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."(Col.2:9) This is saying that everything that we need to know about God can be found in Jesus Christ.
When Jesus called the children to him and blessed them with his love - that is what God is like.
When Jesus cast the demonic enslavement out of Mary Magdalene, giving her freedom and dignity - that is what God is like.
When Jesus turned the water into wine so the wedding party could enjoy a great celebration - that is what God is like.
When Jesus drove the cheating moneychangers out of the temple because they were exploiting the poor and misrepresenting the temple's purpose - that is also what God is like.
When Jesus humbly washed the feet of his disciples, he was, amazingly, showing us what God is like.
When Jesus forgave all those who were gathered around the cross and had participated in his crucifixion, he was showing us what God is like. Jesus took upon himself the judgment of the world's sin. He left the weight of its condemnation and guilt in the grave. There is amazing grace! That is what God is like.
When Jesus rose from death, it was to share his victorious eternal life with all of us. That is amazing love! And that is what our God is like!
But there is still one more thing to say about knowing God. When you see God's children pouring into Haiti, Chile and elsewhere to bring help and hope to those devastated by earthquakes or other natural disasters, or bringing food and medicine to the needy in the Congo, or struggling to bring justice and peace in lands that don't have them; there we also see a beautiful picture of the grace and love of God. That is what God is like!
The Rev. Randy J. Klassen is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.