Changing “God”

“I, the Lord, do not change” –Malachi 3:6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8

“Before Abraham was, I [Jesus] am.” –John 8:58

In Ex 3:14 God attributes himself with the name, Yahweh (often translated, “I AM”). Terence Fretheim says that the best translation for the word is, “I will be who I am/I am who I will be.”

He writes,

“In essence, I will be God for you [Israel]. The force is not simply that God is or that God is present but that God will be faithfully God for them” (Exodus, Interpretation Commentary, p.63).

We Christians hold firmly to the belief that the character of God never changes. He is the one who is, the one who was, and the one who will come.

It is wonderfully comforting that our God will not stop being who he has always been. It is one of the reasons he is so worthy of our worship.

But, it’s easy for us to mistake our perception of God for the True God.

We are finite people. The more I learn about God and his creation, the more I realize that I really don’t know anything. Creation tells of the work of his hands, people display his image, and his Word tells us the story of his relationship with creation. As God reveals his truth in each of these things I find how infinitely complex and wise God is. I find that once I think I have a grasp of one of his attributes, it turns out that I have only picked up a grain of sand on the shore or a speck of dust suspended in a ray of light beaming through the window.

“Pale Blue Dot”

God is never changing, but our perception of him should be always changing. We should not be so audacious to think that our view of God encompasses his complex depth. We should not think that our theological words—such as omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent—are adequate to describe him or that we understand what it means for him to be those things.

A song by one of my favorite bands puts it this way:

“Is your god really God?
Is my god really God?
I think our god isn’t God if he fits inside our heads.”

What makes God even more worthy of worship is that even in our finite, distorted, sometimes unbiblical views of him, he still adopts us as his children. He is not concerned with the measure of our knowledge or certainty. He is concerned with our love. He is concerned that our wills align with his own.

As we become more like Christ, let’s change our definition of who Christ is.

Let’s worship him because we know that he will always be who he has always been.

Let’s worship him because he will never be merely who we think he is.

  

How has your view of God changed recently? What opened your eyes to it?

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2 responses to “Changing “God”

  1. I agree with most of this post. God is greater than our image of Him. That being said, it may not always be audacious to think that we have caught a hold of some of God’s complex character. This, of course, may be splitting hairs. We certainly can’t encompass all of His complex depth, but He can show us a bit of His complexity. I think I am mostly saying the same thing you are, just in a different way.

    I have wondered for some time, if our theological words are inadequate to describe God, then how can we say anything about Him? Maybe it is a matter of degree. Our words can explain Him to a point, but how well do we understand even those words we use to describe God? I firmly agree that
    God wants our will to align with His, and that love is what He desires from us.

    I will explain how my view of God has changed in my next comment. I do not have much time at the moment.

    • I totally agree with you. I think you may have misread me a bit, though. I didn’t say that it is audacious to think that we can grasp a hold of some of God’s character, but that our perceptions cannot encompass ALL of his character. This is why God must be constantly changing in our minds. I certainly believe that we can learn some of God’s character. That is how we become more like Christ.

      I think you have a good point about degree. I’ve been thinking about the words we use to describe God and about how we all use these words with different definitions. For instance, an Open Theist, such as myself, will have a quite different understanding of God’s “omnipotence” or his “omniscience” than a Calvinist or Armenian. Our words really are limited–not only because God is so much more than these words, but because these words are not as static as we assume them to be when we use them.

      I really look forward to reading how your view of God has changed.

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