What is God Like?

While looking for ministry methods, Christianity has the tendency to skip over the Gospels and dive into the book of Acts and Paul’s letters.  Yet it is in the Gospels that we have four accounts of God coming to earth to show us what God is like.  “When Church Was a Family” by Joseph Hellerman is one of the more thought provoking books I have read in a while.  He writes:

“The earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth constitutes the one time in the history of humanity when heaven fully and finally came to earth.  In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we have the opportunity to see the question What is God like? answered in the flesh-and-blood world in which we live.  During His incarnation Jesus not only procured our way to heaven.  He also shows us how to live on earth.  Now we can pattern our lives after Jesus.”[1]

The answer to What is God is like? as seen in the Gospels is love.  At the baptism of Jesus the heavenly Father breaks silence and declares his love for his Son.  “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17) Here we discover the family love bond between the heavenly Father and Jesus.  This familiar love becomes the basis for Jesus love for his disciples and the disciples love for one another.   “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” (John 15:9)As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

While reading the Gospels our Western eyes are drawn to ministry methods and we can easily miss the relational component of Jesus’ approach.   Imitating the methods of Jesus without the family love element will result in a sterile religion rather than a dynamic spiritual family.  It is essential for your disciples to understand that God relates to them as a Father and they are to relate to him as a son.  This understanding is the basis on which your disciples are to lovingly relate to one another as brothers.  The brotherly love your disciples have for one another is a window for the world to see into the heavenly Father’s love for Jesus and their perfect unity. “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)

[1] Joseph H. Hellerman, When the Church Was a Family (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009), p. 62.