God, The Person
I have, on several occasions, wished that I was living in Jesus’ time. I’ve even imagined building a time machine and going back and trying to convince Jesus to make me the thirteenth disciple (I could be “Matthew Two”). The idea of literally walking in Jesus’ footsteps thrills me and puts a smile on my face. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to see Jesus in person? I don’t know if there’s anything I want more in life than to give Jesus a physical hug; I can’t think of anything better than hugging than the Lord.
Imagine the bragging rights! “Oh, what’s that, you’ve won a Nobel Prize for curing all diseases and ridding the world of poverty and war? Well, that’s amazing! But have you hugged the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, only begotten son of the Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Lamb that was slain, Hope of the World (it goes on)? Oh, well, that’s okay, not many have.”
I want to experience him with my senses.
“Oh, you’ve accomplished every goal you ever set out to complete? You feel completely fulfilled and live a perfectly healthy and satisfying life in every way? That’s great! You have no idea how rare that is! Have you hugged Yeshua the man who came and died for the sins of the world? You know, the Word made flesh, the defeater of death, etc etc? No? Oh. Well, don’t worry about it, then.”
Not that I would ever use my experience of bonding with our Savior as a point of prideful boasting; that would be terrible.
It’s so much easier to relate to and interact with God like a formless, faceless spirit-deity in some alternate universe called Heaven.
I think that because Jesus the man doesn’t walk the earth among us any more, we have a different, perhaps more challenging task of relating to him as a person. I know that he left us the Holy Spirit so we could be one with God, commune with him, and experience him in ways that we couldn’t if we had him on the earth the same way the disciples did. It’s not the same though, is it? It’s not at all inferior; it’s just different. Now we have a bit more work to do to relate to God as a person. For me, as a physical touch person (can you tell by the hugging thing?), it’s hard for me to really relate to God as a person when I can’t reach out and touch him, hug him, feel him sitting next to me. I want to experience him with my senses.
This has been a big struggle for me, and for many Christians, for a long time. Not being able to easily interact with God in the same way as we do with others has contributed to a bit of a problem. It’s so much easier to relate to and interact with God like a formless, faceless spirit-deity in some alternate universe called Heaven. God almost seems more like a living concept than a living person. I think it was a big struggle for the Israelites andperhaps that was one reason why Jesus came to earth as a human person, to break preconceptions that framed the Father as some kind of far off being. He wanted to show us that he’s like us; that we’re like him and that he's with us. Jesus said that he was the image (the visible picture) of the invisible God. Okay, that’s confusing. If Jesus was visible and God is “invisible”, how does that work? I don’t know, exactly, but I like to think that it’s talking more about personality and personhood than physical appearance, because that seems to make sense in my head.
I had started treating God like a sort of holy concierge.
Back to the point of the struggle. I had recently been really feeling this contention. It felt like God was far away and was more a being that was there to meet my needs and do things and run the universe than a person who wanted to know me and love me and relate to me spirit to spirit. I had started treating God like a sort of holy concierge. I would come to him in prayer and put forth my requests and voice my frustrations and wonder why it seemed like he would never do anything. Recently, though there's been a change.
“You don’t treat me like a person.”
I sometimes like to picture myself in couples’ counselling with God. In my imaginary counselling sessions with the Almighty, I say what I want to say and imagine a third party (perhaps an Angel with a PhD in Spiritual Psychology) then asking God what he wants to say. For quite a while, I keep hearing God say, “You don’t treat me like a person.” It breaks my heart when he says this. It breaks my heart because it’s true. I often don’t. I fall into the trap of forgetting that God is a person too, not just some spirit-thingy, some concept. Recently, I had an encounter with him where he revealed himself so clearly and showed and taught me things about himself (he’s got a crazy sense of humour, for example) that I could feel and relate to. It’s really changed things!
Now, all I want is more experiences of and with God the person, because who he is, is better than what he does. Changing the paradigm we have of relating with God so that we interact with him as a person is actually easier to do than you might think. If you find that you’re having a hard time relating to God as a person, try asking him to tell you about him! Take some time to just sit, close your eyes, put all of your prayers to the backburner and ask him what he wants to say to you. He'll answer and he'll surprise you and it could change your life entirely; I know that mine is going that way!
God is a person. The gospels paint the picture of a loving, caring, strong, compelling, dynamic, holy, compassionate, powerful, sensitive, and supernatural man named Jesus. That person is God. That person is who we worship. That’s the person I want to get to know. How about you?