Posted by Andrea
Read Acts 1
People, particularly those who have never had a personal relationship with him, think of God as a distant, disinterested being in flowing robes with a santa-esque beard. They think of him as sitting on a golden throne, scepter of vengeance in his hand, surrounded by cherubs playing harps. This god either doesn’t care about the workings of the world or is like that mean kid in the first Toy Story movie that only gets involved to see what sort of havoc he can cause.
We know this image of the Almighty is a projection of people’s fear rather than the truth, but we are guilty of wondering the same things about our creator. How can he possibly care about us and each detail about our lives? If God is so good, why does he let bad things happen?
Things happen all the time that make us question who God is, and that is why it is so important that we have the truth straight in our own heads and hearts.
God appears in the first few chapters of Genisis witout introduction. It is not until an encounter with a fugitive that he introduces himself. Moses, a Hebrew, should have known God immediately. Instead, because Moses had been raised in a household that worshiped Pharaoh among hundreds of other gods, God explained himself. “I am,” said the voice from the burning bush. Some translations say “I am that I am.”
Regardless, anyone can tell that his grammar is terrible. It’s a good idea to look closer at what God is really saying about himself here. The word AM is the present simple tense of the verb BE. That is the simplest, easiest way of saying right now at this very moment. BE is what is called a linking verb, meaning what comes after the verb depends on and is defined by what comes before it. God is the subject, or who he is talking about. God IS, therefore everything that comes after is wholly dependent and defined by him. The absence of a direct object (also called a complement) implies that the subject, God, does not need to be linked to anything in order to BE.
Obviously God was not speaking modern day English language out in the dessert that day, but because of the way the phrase is translated, we can be pretty sure the same principal applies in the original language as well. God was basically answering Moses with the equivalent of me telling my child, “Because I said so.” The phrase tells us everything and nothing about God all at once.
Thankfully, God is more succinct in revealing his character as the Bible continues. I used the handy concordance at Bible Gateway to come up with the following list. I plugged in “God is” and jotted down everything that related to his character. I got part way through Psalms before I was interrupted.
God is God
God is giving
God is testing
God is your refuge
God is with you/among you
God is my rock
God is greater than all other gods
God is gracious and compassionate
God is mighty
God is seated on his holy throne
God is my help
God is a God who saves
God is the strength of my heart
God is my sun and shield
God is greatly feared
God is holy
God is flawless
God is sovereign
God is merciful and forgiving
AW Tosier had the following to say in the little (and fantastic) book The Persuit of Man:
[Because God is] wholly unlike anything or anybody in his universe, our very thoughts of him as well as our words are in constant danger of going astray. One example is found in the words “the Power of God.” The danger is that we think of “power’ as something belonging to God as muscular energy belongs to a man, as something which he has and might be separated from him and still have existence in itself. We must remember that the “attributes” of God are not component parts of the blessed Godhead nor elements of which he is composed. A god who could be composed would not be God at all, but the work of someone or something greater than he, great enough to compose him.
In other words, the preceding list of God’s qualities are not “component parts.” Rather they are part of God himself. Perhaps it would help to think of these attributes as blood. Each of them can exist outside the body, but the body cannot function at all in the absence of blood. We can be infused with Godly attributes, but that doesn’t make us God anymore than receiving a blood transfusion makes us someone else. (Off topic, sorry).
We all face times when we wonder about God. Meditating on the truth of who God is will certainly help put it in perspective. Take everything you know about God and his bigness and vastness and goodness and majesty and remember he is so. much. bigger than that.