On creating a God who looks like Jesus
The danger of seeking God comes when the picture or conception of God we have formulated is inaccurate. If we have created an image of God built around little more than our own psychological projections, contemporary philosophical assumptions, or religious persuasions, maybe we need to take a step back and reflect on another picture.
For instance, the danger of creating a God who is primarily characterized as blood-thirsty, vengeful, angry and aloof, will impact our lives in equal ways. We will reflect this deity in our own living. It will impact not only ourselves and how we relate to God, but also how we relate to others.
Therefore, getting the picture right is incredibly important. And, working to get it right should occupy our life’s pursuit.
A Jesus-looking God
The picture we have of God in the Gospel accounts, and one that is testified to throughout the New Testament witness, is a God who looks like Jesus.When we see Jesus, we see what God is like. God is like Jesus. Click To Tweet
If Jesus makes the invisible God known, and God was pleased to have all of the fullness of deity to dwell in him in bodily form, and Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the exact imprint of God’s being (1), how should this impact our picture of God?
It means when we see Jesus, we see God. God is like Jesus.
No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only, who is now at the Father’s side, has made him known. (2)
What Jesus says and does perfectly reflects the way God actually is. The things Jesus has said in the Gospel accounts are things that God has said. The things Jesus did are the things that God has done, and continues to do through him by the Spirit.
Jesus demonstrated what God is like when he –
- loved his enemies to the point of dying for them.
- put away Peter’s sword and declared his kingdom will never come through force.
- associated with the disenfranchised and outcasts.
- touched people no one else would touch.
- called disciples no one else would have called.
- forgave, instead of judged.
- embraced, instead of set aside.
When you see Jesus act in these ways, you see what God is truly like.
Creating a picture of God who looks like Jesus is important, not only for theological reasons, but also practical reasons.
Creating a picture of God who looks like Jesus changes the way we see God and the way we live in response to this change.
We have a tendency to model ourselves after our conception of God. Therefore, if our conception is false, we will model this false image.
My advice is to take time to read about the God who looks like Jesus. The best accounts we have are found in the Gospel records.
Begin with Matthew and work your way through to John. Watch what Jesus does. Listen for what Jesus says. Place yourself in the story as a bystander. Listen for what Jesus says to you as a person within the narrative. And, respond.
In the short video below, Alan Hirsch clarifies the danger of seeking after God when our images are distorted. He highlights the practical ways in which our conception of God is mirrored in the ways we live. And, he closes with a call to create a picture of God that looks like Jesus. A picture based in truth.
What kind of picture have you created? Does seeing God in the face of Jesus change this picture?
1. John 1:18; Colossians 1:19 and 2:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3
2. John 1:18
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