God looks like Jesus
As we enter 2021 we are strongly in need of a clear and consistent view of God, what His heart and intentions are, to know His thoughts and actions. With so many things around to muddy the water of what God is like – COVID, social and politician unrest and thousands of voices professing to communicate the mind of God – we need to pause and look to Jesus.
Jesus is our perfect view of what God is like. God looks like Jesus. In Jesus’ response to Philip asking what the Father (God) was like, we get a simple and clear message:
“He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
God looks like Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews goes further still, when he says that the previous attempts to communicate what God is like have been a good try, but ultimately fallen short when compared to the perfect way Jesus represents the Father:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets…”
But when, in these last days, Jesus came He elevated to view of God. Jesus coming meant we have a perfect view of God:
“…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…”
Other translations reveal the extent to which Jesus is the supreme revelation of God:
“the exact representation of His being” (NIV)
“expresses the very character of God” (New Living)
“is like Him in every way” (Contemporary English version)
“the exact likeness of His being” (International Standard version)
Jesus, our shape sorter!
When we see Jesus, we see what God is like. If what we think, or understand, or assume something about God doesn’t fit into what we see in Jesus then it doesn’t fit in God. Jesus is our God shape sorter.
This is great news for us, as it breeds confidence and boldness in us when we see Jesus, and enables us to approach God, to ‘be with’ Him and to have relationship with Him. As the writer of Hebrews goes on to say in chapter 4:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
See the language used, ‘seeing…’ Jesus leads us to ‘…come boldly to the throne of grace…”. We can know God, because we can see Jesus. As we look through the life of Jesus, from His birth all the way to His resurrection, we see what God is like, and any fear empowered by mystery is eradicated and we come to know Him.
Knowing Him AND making Him known
Whilst we may have a very clear view of what God is like, as we know Jesus, for many people they either don’t know Him at all, or have a very poor view of what He’s like. Sadly, for many in our neighbourhoods, city and beyond, the revelation of God has taken a bit of a nose dive since Jesus ascended to heaven, and the Image of the Invisible God became invisible Himself:
However, Jesus has always had a plan to arrest that dive, and that plan is me and you! That’s right, Jesus is calling us to make Him known, to make Him known by the way we live, talk and behave. He is calling us to carry on what He started in revealing the heart and intentions of God to those around us. Jesus is calling us to ‘Live Visible’ so the Invisible God can be seen and known.
Time to let your light shine
Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 5 v16:
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”
Jesus is telling us that if we be who He has made us to be, if we shine, if we ‘Live Visible’ then people will be able to ‘see’ and ‘glorify your Father in heaven’, or in other words, know your Father, know God themselves, who is invisible!
Now that’s a big ask! To live like Jesus! Thankfully, Jesus was unsurprisingly prepared for what we may have the tendency to do when faced with such a task…run and hide!
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
Jesus knew we would be tempted to hide, to put ourselves ‘under a basket’. Now the ‘baskets’ we hide under are all different, for some of us its shame that causes us to hide, for others is intimidation or fear. Maybe for others is anxiety or poor self worth, maybe its even religious legalism that’s held us back in letting our light shine. Maybe its something completely different. The joy is that no matter what it is that causes us to hide away Jesus is on hand to bring freedom and restoration to our souls!
Jesus restores our soul!
Psalm 23 is possibly the most perfectly articulated example of how Jesus not only restores our soul but also leads us to ‘let our light shine’.
You see Jesus is invested into the restoration of our souls, so that shame, fear and anxiety can genuinely be a thing of the past. However, the beauty of the work of Jesus in our lives, is that the restoration He brings in our lives leads to us revealing more of Him as we walk our journey with Him as He ‘…leads (us) in the paths of righteousness. For His names sake’ Coming to Jesus, with all our junk, and allowing Him to restore us, allows us to make Him known.
As the journey unfolds, we actually end up in a place where our hearts are so full of His love, forgiveness, grace, kindness etc… that we begin to share this with our families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, strangers and the estranged. We keep sharing the love we have received until a strange thing happens, and we, just like Jesus, invite our enemies, and those who have done us and others wrong to the table of God’s goodness, to come and be reconciled with us:
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;”
It is so often suggested, that this table is prepared as some kind of cruel, childish, primary school taunt of ‘Look at what I’ve got, ner ner nee ner ner’. No, that doesn’t look like the GodGod revealed in Jesus who called us to (Matthew 5:44):
“love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Having a table filled with Gods goodness and inviting everyone, including our enemies, to come and share in it, looks alot more like the behaviour of the God who hung on a cross and died for His enemies, which once included us.
Looks a lot like Jesus
Always makes me smile when I realise that Jesus intention was always that we follow in His footsteps and continue to reveal what God was like, simply because I often don’t feel able to do this, and maybe feel a little set up by Jesus…in a good way! When we consider the ‘ending’ of Psalm 23, it simply emphasises the point even more, we’re called to live, love and shine just like Jesus. That as we allow Him to heal our broken parts, we begin to ‘Live Visible’ and in doing so reveal the Invisible God to everyone we meet, from those in our home all the way to those who we never expected to love!
The fascinating thing about Psalm 23 is that it shows us the cyclical process Jesus takes us through, its not about ‘getting restored’ and then letting our light shine, its step by step and after we’ve been through a cycle we find ourselves dwelling with Jesus, ready to start the process of being restored to restore the world again!
“All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Forever.”
As we engage with Jesus in the process and journey He leads us on, maybe, just maybe its possible that the revelation of God, the awareness of God and people knowing God will begin to increase, just like when Jesus walked the earth:
Questions to consider
What ideas do you have about God that don’t ‘fit’ into/look like Jesus?
What stops you from letting your like shine?
Where and how can you ‘live visible’ in the month ahead?