What is God like? Is He a version of our best selves, except without our peculiarities and self-centeredness or is He even more self centered than we are, obsessed with sin and continually frustrated by our messing about? Is He a benign Father Christmas of the Sky or is He the Un-Moved Mover and Stoic Figure of ‘we are not amused’ and Victorian Inhibitions?
Thank God He is none of the above!
There is a branch of Christian heresy that inclines to the idea that Jesus is not fully God. Raised and acculturated in the Adventist church I was familiar with a subterranean but unstated assumption - the idea that Jesus Christ was not fully equal with the Father and that when one spoke of God they meant Father God. Later in life I was to learn that this is called Arianism. Some suggest that Adventism has an Arian taint. The Desire of Ages notion that Jesus lived to uphold the law, implies that law is on a higher level than Jesus. This implies that Jesus is subordinate to the law and is capable of suggesting that He is inferior to the Father. Of course He is not. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the explicit expression of our Father. Could this explain why Believers in an Adventist school staff room ‘wondered’ what God was like.
Sure, they thought they knew what Jesus was like. Apparently they had not pondered the passage in Hebrews that declares that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being or the import of Jesus remark to a disciple when he asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus’ answer implied that this is what He had been doing. He said, ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father.’ Jesus mission was to reveal our Father. To see Jesus is to see our Father. Can it be that confusion here is a latent Arianism in which Father’s divinity is thought to be superior to the Son?
There never was a time when the Son was not. The Son is begotten by virtue of being. Not by virtue of time. To live, move and have our being in God is to find the essence of our selves and our living in the trinity and their community of love.
If we treat the law as God we are sure to have a lesser view of Jesus. Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Knowing God is living in Jesus’ life by the Spirt and enjoying the union of the Father and the Son and their knowing of each other through the Holy Spirit.
We can possess a godliness that is the product of a few legalistic and primitive ideas or we can enjoy a knowledge of God that comes from union with the trinity and fellowship with these persons who are so much alive in themselves and each other. God cannot be known through the law or as a result of formulated positions or by the Biblicism. He is known by encounter, by revelation and by fellowship. He is known when He is experienced, lived with, lived in and perceived. This by courtesy of the revelation of Himself that shines from His being and in which we may participate through the living way of Jesus.
“We know God in the Spirit and we know Him because Christ is our life.”
In Trinitarian Conversations we find these insights.
“The place that we most preeminently know about God's attributes is in God's self-revelation to us in Jesus Christ, realized in our life by the Holy Spirit. If you want to know what God's love and holiness is like, rather than start with human experience, posit its perfection, and attribute it to God, or even do a concordance method where we look up everything the Bible has to say about holiness or love or justice in the Bible about God. [Rather than do this] the appropriate way is to look through Scripture and see what God actually revealed in Jesus Christ. There we find out that God's attributes turn out to be rather different than what we might assume they were, based on these other self-centered ways of thinking about it.”