Aaahhh, it’s always easier to ask a question than to answer it, isn’t it? And even harder still is to accept and submit to that answer, should the answer not be to our liking … even if that answer is God. In continuing our “Who Are You, God?” series, I share some thoughts that just may be of use to you as you (hopefully) continue to pursue God for who He is. I don’t often include many of my own essays in this blog, so I hope that it’s helpful! Comments are always welcomed! – Arthur
Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman! As a child, I loved to collect super-hero comic books. I enjoyed the exaggerated, super human qualities of these heroes as they battled outrageous evil foes in order to save the entire human race. I marveled at the heroes’ god-like physical attributes and abilities as captured by the comic artists’ renderings.
I also enjoyed the TV shows or movies made of these comics, but not as much as the comics themselves. Why? Humans. Real human actors had to be used to play the roles. No matter what the costume directors or make up artists did, there was no way that human actors were going to be able to match the caricatures of strength, presence, and agility depicted in my comic books.
A caricature is an exaggeration, or distortion by exaggeration, of parts or characteristics, as in a picture. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1998) My family knows well what it means to be caricaturized, both in drawing and with words. We once attended a business function where the hosting firm hired cartoon artists to sketch drawings of the guests. After our drawing was completed, we had a good laugh at ourselves (and cried inside, if truth be told!) as we poured over our various physical features that the artist over-exaggerated. We displayed the sketch in our home for a while with a sign underneath that read, “Go ahead and laugh!” What’s not quite as funny, however, is when certain aspects of your character become caricatured and you become stigmatized for certain things that are actually inconsistent with your real character or nature.
A popular slogan invites, “To know me is to love me.” Inherent in all of us is a latent desire to be truly known and to be truly loved. Known for who we really are, and not for what we’re perceived to be. Loved despite who we really are, “warts and all.” Even if the perception is favorable, if it’s not accurate, it’s not you; and you’re being loved for being someone who you are not. Nobody wants that. Not really. Not only is it not truthful, it’s not satisfying.
Our God, too, wants to be truly known by His Bride, His Church … for who He truly is, as He has revealed Himself to us via His Word. When we highlight certain aspects of His character, such as His love, and diminish other aspects, such as His jealousy or justice, we are not loving God for who He is, but rather, who we make Him to be; or worse yet, who we want Him to be. When we do that, we end up worshipping an idol, a god made in our own image.
If we would commit ourselves to read Scripture in order to discover more about who God really is – how He thinks, feels, and evaluates, to study and marvel at His character and attributes – in other words, to know HIM rather than to read because we know it will benefit us and is what we ought to do, we will be in for an amazing journey of discovery, surprise, and wonder. We will be left with jaw-dropping, soul-stirring encounters with a Being that will emerge to us, not only intellectually, but in our hearts, as truly being sui generis, in a class all of His own. Our hearts will be left chock-full of deep gratitude and love for our Heavenly Father, and an insatiable desire to want to know and love Him more.
That’s what happened to the two men in Luke 24 who left Jerusalem deeply discouraged and disappointed after Jesus’ death. While traveling on a road to a village seven miles away, they were encountered by a stranger who inquired as to the nature of their conversation. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” they replied to him (v. 21). What ensued undoubtedly changed their lives forever. What happened? They had a Bible study along the way with this stranger, who explained who God truly was and what His plans really were. He exposed their caricaturized visions of God and His plans, and revealed to them the self-centeredness of their understanding. Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, Luke tells us that this stranger explained to them the real things concerning the Lord in all the Scriptures (v. 27). Their response?
They urged him to stay with them because they couldn’t get enough.
Once they began to have dinner together, “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.” It finally dawned on them that the stranger that were having Bible study with was none other than Jesus Himself! “And they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’” That’s what happens when you actually study God’s Word with God and actually listen to Him. Your heart burns within you!
May I ask you a personal question? When was the last time your heart burned within you with the Word of God? You may reply and quip that if Jesus personally had a Bible study with you, your heart would burn too. Jesus tells us that He is always with us in the place where it counts, in our spirits, and that He will never leave us. (Heb. 13:5) He has given us His own Spirit to lead and guide us … where? Into Scripture.
1 Corinthians 2:10 informs us that His Spirit “searches all things, even the depths of God.” Now, since we know that the Holy Spirit is God Himself, the questions that beckons us is, “Why does the Spirit search the depths of God, since He is God? The answer? For us! For us! For us to truly know God in the way He wants to be known, God Himself is going to have to be active in revealing Himself to our minds and hearts, for, “… the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” (v. 11)
In giving us the Bible, God is opening Himself up to us and inviting us into His heart, to get to know Him, the true Him. The Scriptures are “God-breathed” (2Tim. 3:16) and are given so we can enter into a true and honest relationship with Him, the true God, and not a caricature of who we think or want Him to be. Listen. Meditate. Take notes. Engage. Relate. Your God is waiting. Enjoy as your hearts burn within you!
– Arthur Hsieh