Imagine arriving in heaven and encountering someone shining the entry gate. You ask this person if he could direct you to Jesus. He responds with the words, “I am.”
“Excuse me?” you answer.
“Perhaps you misunderstood. I am looking for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Once again, he says, “I am.”
Sound a little strange?
Is it possible that our vision of God is clouded by misguided images of religion or from our own hearts? I think many people will be surprised when they meet God. When he came to earth, Jesus was certainly the God that people did not expect.
What will it be like to meet God? What will He be like? I have friends who are with God. I know that my time will soon come to meet God. What do I expect?
I still remember how intrigued I was at the end of the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty to see God portrayed by Morgan Freeman as a janitor. Something resonated with me. I thought of Jesus’ words to His prideful disciples, “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27; cf. Mark 10:45).
Will I be surprised by the unexpected when I meet God?
Examples of people meeting God revealed in Scripture are a little scary. Those who received small glimpses of God backed off from him in fear. 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).
I am inviting you to reflect on the nature of God in a way that should bring comfort and confidence about meeting him. It will also challenge us to be more godly (God-like) toward others. Consider this provocative question:
When you meet God will He be focused on you?
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.
Here is what might surprise us about God
When you meet God, He will be very much about you. Does this surprise you? I need to be careful in saying this because self-centered people will possibly 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.
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). “Us? When did we…?”
Something feels wrong about the statement, “God is very much about you.” I am tempted to tone it down with many qualifiers. It is wise to approach such a great truth with trembling humility. Yet the boldness of the claim is fitting to both the character and actions of God.
How is God able to be 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).
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).
Let this truth sink deeply into our hearts
“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).
“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).
Perhaps you should read this post again and talk to God about what you’re reading and express to Him how you feel about it.
Jesus was the God they did not expect. Let’s not make the same mistake in how we understand our God (see: Isaiah 58:8-9;66:1-2; I Corinthians 1:25).
And, finally, as beings made in the image of God, our self-understanding is what it was meant to be when defined by God’s self-giving love in Christ (Philippians 2:3-10).