I like windows. Windows allow beams of natural light to brighten our homes and enable us to see the outside world from our dwelling.
But windows come in different sizes and degrees of clarity. And because they are positioned in varying locations, each window provides us with a unique perspective.
Imagine a house with a large window that provides a direct view of majestic mountains. Now imagine that that window is crystal clear.
Can you see the mountains from other windows in the house? Yes, but they are smaller, perhaps dirtier, and don’t give such a direct view. If you want to see the mountains, what’s the point of turning your head and squinting your eyes, while peering out of one of the other windows? To view the mountains from inside the house, you go to the crystal clear, wall-sized window that takes your breath away.
A Divine Window
What is the large, crystal clear window through which we can see God?
Yes, there are other windows to God throughout the Bible, but the biggest and clearest window is Christ. That means if we want to know what God is like we have to look at Jesus.
The Christian view of God goes straight through Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death. Jesus is what God is like and God is what Jesus is like. Could the following ten New Testament statements be any clearer?
- Jesus said, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27 NIV). The Son (Jesus) reveals the Father.
- John writes, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (Jn. 1:18). Jesus is the only one who can make the Father known.
- Jesus said, “whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn. 5:19). Jesus perfectly imitates the Father.
- Jesus said, “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me” (Jn. 12:45). When we look at Jesus we see the Father.
- Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). To see Jesus is to see the Father.
- Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God’s love is revealed in Christ’s death for sinners.
- Paul states, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). How can we see the invisible God? By looking at Jesus.
- Paul says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:19-20). God’s fullness lived in Jesus and through Jesus, God reconciled all things to himself.
- Paul asserts, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). Christ is the bodily form of God.
- The author of Hebrews claims, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus shows us God exactly.
So if we want to know what God is like we must focus on Jesus because he is “the image of the invisible God” and “the exact representation of [God’s] being.”
So what was Jesus like?
For the sake of brevity, let’s focus on one item.
Jesus taught and practiced nonviolence. He said to his disciples “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matt. 5:39). And when he was arrested, beaten, mocked, and crucified, Jesus didn’t retaliate with verbal or physical violence. Even after he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, he didn’t seek revenge on his attackers. Instead he commanded his disciples to go and preach forgiveness in his name to all nations (Lk. 24:47). Jesus’ example of nonviolence is one of the most striking aspects of his life, and it influenced the nonviolent protest movements led by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Q and A
So if Jesus is “the exact representation of [God’s] being” and he practiced nonviolence, what does that mean for our view of God? Here’s a simple Q and A to show how this should influence us.
Q: Is God violent?
Q: Why not?
A: Because God is like Jesus and Jesus practiced and taught nonviolence.
Q: So what does God do to his enemies?
A: He dies for them.