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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy: What does God look like? Jesus Christ
Larry Sheehy mug
Larry Sheehy - photo by Special

    There is a lot of skepticism about God today — as there has almost always been. Whether from atheists who deny God’s existence, agnostics who aren’t sure about the existence of God; or pessimists who doubt God’s nature, who ask questions such as, "Where is God when bad things happen?" or, "Why does God allow evil?" These are not unusual ideas or questions, and honest questioners deserve an honest response.
    Jesus of Nazareth — whose existence in the first century A.D. is unquestioned by almost everyone — claimed to be God’s son, sent to make salvation from the consequences of sin possible (John 3:16-17). His mission included helping people to understand God and his will. One of the ways he taught God’s will was by the use of parables — stories that demonstrated who God is and the nature of his will.
    One of the best-known parables in the Bible is that of the prodigal son, who left home and squandered his inheritance in reckless living (Luke 15:13). When he ran out of money and friends, he realized he had been wrong and decided to return home in humility. His father lovingly accepted him back home. The story ends with the father trying to help his older son willingly accept his brother as well.
     In telling this story, Jesus reveals several things to us about God’s nature. Space will only allow us to look at a few here.
    First, this passage reveals that God is personal. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed. "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36). Paul wrote in Romans 8:15, "you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' "
    Many believe God is impersonal; like the Greeks, they doubt he is concerned with humans. Even some Christians, in their skepticism about the providential care of God, show they have doubts about him as well. But Jesus wants us to understand that God is a personal creator.
    Second, we can learn here that God communicates with men. Note: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them" (Romans 1:18-19). Also, the writer of Hebrews said, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. ..." (Hebrews 1:1-2).
    In the Old Testament, God reserved some of his severest criticism for those who worshipped man-made idols: "Where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble" (Jeremiah 2:28). God isn’t like a dumb idol; he listens and directs us.
    The fact that we are told to pray for what we need (Matthew 6:9) implies that God will listen. His word is given to help us live as he wants (II Timothy 3:16-17). Though many deny it, God is present to help his children in our daily walk. Solomon wrote, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).
    The Bible is a record of God’s nature and will for mankind, and instructions for how we can please him, our Creator. We’ll likely look again at this great story for what it tells us about the wonderful nature of God.

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