What's God Like?

by Pastor Doug Engel

I loved my grandfather! His nickname was “Red”, inspired by his carrot coloured hair. Actually, I never did see my grandfather with red hair. In fact, when I was little I thought he was bald because his hair was so thin and white. When I was a bit older my grandparents came for a visit and I was shocked that my grandfather had hair now!

With my young mind (or perhaps because of the lack of glasses that I needed badly) I had the wrong picture of what my grandfather really looked like!

Think about this. Is it possible to get the wrong idea as to what God looks like?

Kids have been asked if they know what God looks like. Some of the answers are hilarious. For example, “God is like a Transformer,” says 7-year-old Shane. “He can turn himself into anything he wants.” And, at 11 years old, Mia writes that, “I think [God] has powers that can make him invisible when he wants [and] he has loads of fresh fruit.” I’m thinking that Mia’s mom talked to her about the importance of eating healthy.

As adults we can easily get the wrong idea as to what God is like too. I know people who have grown up in very strict and legalistic home environments. If you kept the rules you had God’s approval. When they left home, some before they finished high school, they wanted nothing to do with God or the church. Why? Because they really didn’t know the God of the Bible ... they saw God as some sort of cosmic policeman who was always looking for lawbreakers to punish.

Another very popular view is one I like to refer to as “The Vending Machine God”. If you have enough faith God will give you exactly what you ask for. But that’s not how God operates at all. Those who see God in this light often become disillusioned and discouraged when their prayers aren’t answered in the way they want. Some even walk away from the faith.

There are lots of other false ideas as to what God is like. Some of it comes from teaching and some of it comes from unhealthy environments. Other false views include “Anything Goes God” (because God loves everyone he will overlook sinful lifestyles); “Grand Old Man God” (this God is old fashioned and outdated ... definitely too old to notice what’s really going on); and “Second-hand God” (where everything you know about God you get from movies, culture, and other people’s opinions ... no personal experience).

Let me ask you a question. Where do you get your idea as to what God looks like?

In the book of Genesis we read that God created the world and everything in it. It was all very unique and awesome. After everything else was completed “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ...’” (1:26). And that’s who we are, God’s image bearers.

Now, what I see happening in our culture, and even in some of our churches, is that we image bearers have decided to turn the tables! We have decided to create God in our image, attempting to present a more attractive and inclusive God. When we do that, our sin (our offense against a holy God) remains. My encouragement for you today is that you discover the God of the Bible for yourself. Getting to know God and what he’s really like can be the most exciting adventure you’ll ever undertake. As you do, you’ll discover a lot about yourself that you didn’t know before. After all, you are one of his image bearers.