Do you think many people will be surprised by what God is like? Is it possible that our vision of God is too clouded by wrong images from religion and from our own hearts? I still remember how intrigued I was to see God portrayed as a janitor at the end of the 2003 movie, Bruce Almighty. But something resonated with me. I immediately thought of Jesus’ words to His prideful disciples, “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).
For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about what it will be like to meet God. What will He be like? I have friends who are with God and I know that my time will come sooner than I realize. Will I be surprised by the unexpected when I meet God?
Examples of people meeting God recorded in Scripture are a little scary. Those who received small glimpses of God in His glory cowered back in fear for their lives. Isaiah was so shocked by the power and purity of God’s glory that he pronounced a woe on himself. Like many prophets before him, the apostle John (whom Jesus loved) received a revelation of Jesus in His glory and “fell at his feet as if … dead.” He didn’t think he’d make it out of the experience alive. “But he (Jesus) laid his right hand on John and said, ‘Don’t be afraid!’” (Revelation 1:17).
Let me invite you to reflect on the nature of God in a way that brings comfort, confidence and a challenge to be more godly (God-like).
Some people wrongly think of God as a self-absorbed deity who demands the praise and worship of His creatures. Yet while it’s an appropriate response for the created to honor and praise their Creator, it might surprise some to know that God is a lot more focused on others than Himself.
When we meet someone who is all about himself, a self-centered, self-absorbed person, we’re not likely to think of him as a being very godly. But when we meet someone who is self-giving, and focused on care and service for others, we are right to see such qualities as godly — God-like. God is love. He is the self-giving lover of His creation.
One of the repeated descriptions of God in Scripture states: “God is love” (I John 4:8). Love is beautifully described in all it’s other-focused ways in I Corinthians 13:4-8a.
So here is what might surprise us about God:
When you meet God, He will be very much about you. I need to be careful in saying this because self-centered people will likely misread me and think of God as one more person lined up to serve them. Don’t be so foolish. We must first meet God in repentance regarding the sin that separates us from Him (see: Luke 18:9-14) if we hope to experience what I am about to share.
But repentant people will also resist this idea because they feel unworthy of divine attention. Truly redeemed people are like those who respond with astonishment upon hearing the Lord’s words,
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
When I say, “God is very much about you” something feels wrong about the statement. I am tempted to tone it down with many qualifying statements. I am wise to approach such a great truth with a kind of trembling humility, but the boldness of the claim is fitting to both the character and actions of God.
Here is why God is able to be all about us.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:6-8).
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:31-34).
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10).
In Scripture, God’s forgiven, redeemed people are called “dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1) and “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12). We are the objects of God’s ”great love for us — God, who is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). In view of this great love, it should not surprise us when the apostle asked, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31). But his prayer for believers is that,
“Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
What confidence and comfort we find in the truth that,
“… nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)
Of course, in this life, we wait to fully know the depths of God’s love for us.
“Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (I Corinthians 13:12).
In view of God’s deep interest in us and affection for us, reflect on these words and “go out to dance with the joy”
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)
“The Lord appeared to us in the past,saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, … Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful” (Jeremiah 31:3-4).