I can remember being asked “What does God look like?” as a child in Sunday School. Glimpses of the pictures we drew as children come to mind: an old man with a beard, crayon rays of light zig-zagging out of the clouds, lopsided crosses -and then a simple stick figure of Jesus.
So what does God actually look like??? -These question marks punctuate a profound theological question. As Christians, if we allow ourselves the freedom to respond with the simple child-like faith that God calls us to, we find the answer. Our God looks like Jesus. Whenever we have a question about God’s character or His posture towards humanity, all we need to do is look to Jesus as our divine reference point. Famous preachers, our own religious preferences and even trusted denominational doctrines are not reliable points of reference for what God looks like; only His Son is qualified to show us the Father.
As St. John said in John 1:17-18:
“For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
Jesus has made God (the Father) “known” to us. In other words, we KNOW exactly what God looks like; He looks just like Jesus.
- So… Jesus eating a meal at a DESPISED tax collector’s house, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus taking the time to speak to that MESSED UP half-breed woman at the well, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus confronting and REBUKING legalistic religious leaders, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus attending a wedding CELEBRATION and turning water into wine, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus WEEPING over Israel’s rebellion, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus chasing the MONEY CHANGERS out of the temple, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus REFUSING to stone the woman caught in the “very act” of adultery, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus being CONCERNED about the practical needs of people and feeding the five thousand, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus distancing Himself from FICKLE crowds seeking a sign, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus not being afraid to speak the TRUTH (in love,) was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus FORGIVING the Roman soldiers while they were crucifying Him, was Jesus making God known to us.
- Jesus pursuing the disciples who DESERTED Him (at the cross) would also be, Jesus making the Father’s heart known to us.
- And finally… “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” would be, EMMANUEL declaring God the Father and making His Kingdom known to us -by way of a baby in a manger.
Jesus is what God looks like. Do not make the tragic mistake of cherry picking versus from the Bible and then saying, “God said!” NO; that is simply incorrect. JESUS is what the entire Bible has to say, in perfect context with human history. The Bible tells us a vivid story of humanity desperately in need of a Savior. The sole purpose of the Bible is to point us to God’s Son; the True Infallible Word of God. If we cannot reconcile a religious teaching directly to Jesus, caution flags should fly up in our hearts and minds. There is no biblical character or contemporary religious figure with the authority to critique or tweak Jesus’ teachings and actions.
We must learn to reconcile ourselves back to Jesus and His teachings. Jesus is what God looks like -and Jesus is what God has to say to us as we prepare to celebrate His birth. Merry Christmas!