(Wednesday, July 17, 2019)
I had the opportunity to discuss theology on Tumblr after receiving the above anonymous question: “How do you envision God?” I ended up answering the question at least a month after it was asked; I was going through a lot and didn’t have the energy to devote to answering a theological question. My mother had passed away from cancer, and I was busy moving out of my dorm after graduation and preparing to travel home to plan her funeral. Again, not the best time to sit down and write a theological treatise. However, yesterday, I looked at the lone unanswered question in my inbox–I’m not exactly “tumblr famous”–and the words began to flow. I want to share with you what I wrote in my response. In retrospect, I think I should have included more specific Bible passages, but this was really more stream-of-consciousness.
“Q: How do you envision God?
A: I envision God:
1)non-corporeal: God doesn’t have a physical body. I imagine that God is a great big pillar of bright, shining light that just consumes everything. Takes up all the space.
2) Compassionate and merciful: God reminds me of what a parent, specifically a father, should be to his children. God is loving, caring, and forgiving. Kind of like Cory Asbury’s song “Reckless Love,” God is someone who would pursue the people He loves until they are convinced that they are loved unconditionally and that they are not alone, even if it may look and feel that way. (P.S. look up the song on youtube. I think it will bless you).
3) Just: God values justice. God is the only person/entity who can accomplish perfect justice, even though the world looks like hell right now. God’s justice, especially since Jesus’ Resurrection, is not retributive. God cares about oppressed people. The Bible specifies widows, orphans, and immigrants/foreigners. But I also believe God cares about the lives of anyone who is marginalized and not valued in society.
4) Selfless and loving: I am a preacher, and what my heart always goes back to–the core of my message–is the Gospel. John 3:16 says that God loved the whole world so much that God sacrificed His own son, Jesus Christ, for multiple reasons. It makes no sense for a father to give up the one child that he loves, but God did. There’s so much evil in the world, and God didn’t want to punish everyone anymore, so he made Jesus to embody all of that sin, almost like a scapegoat. Jesus was perfect and sinless, because not only was He God’s Son, but He was filled with God’s Holy Spirit during His life and when He died, He sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us as a comforter and advocate.
(More 4): That sacrifice is one of selfless love. It means that we don’t have to work to earn God’s love and forgiveness. We don’t have to work hard to go to Heaven. We only need to believe in that sacrifice. That Jesus Christ (whose name means “Anointed Savior”) died for our sins and God brought Him back to life after three days. During this time, he defeated all the powers of evil. Even though there is so much evil in the world, Christians believe that because of this victory, it will not last forever. The war has already been won, even though we may engage in little battles through prayer, protests, etc.
I’m sure I strayed from your question a little bit, but theology and the Gospel are things that I am passionate about and will inevitably write an entire essay about, like I just did here. I would encourage you to read the books of Genesis and Exodus in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the Gospels in the New Testament/50% of the Christian Bible: the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The OT tells you about the history of the Jewish people and God’s covenant with them. The NT tells you the story of Jesus and how he relates to that story. Easy translations to read are the New Living Translation, The Message, and the New International Version.
I also like The Bible Project on Youtube. They have videos about all the books and concepts and stories in the Bible. Ravi Zacharias is a good person to listen to if you want to learn about apologetics. Apologetics is a defense and explanation of Christianity. C.S. Lewis is an author who wrote fictional books with Christian themes. I think the allegories/metaphors in his books might also be useful.”
What I forgot to include:
Tim Keller, The Reason for God
A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy