Christians believe that, in one brief and remarkable life, the life of a first century Galilean Jew named Jesus, we have experienced God more fully than in anything else in creation and more completely than in anyone else in human history.
We experience God, to be sure, in the wonders of creation. As the Psalmist said: “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the dome of the sky proclaims his handiwork.” Gazing at the night sky, we sense the dark luminosity of God’s mystery. Oceanside, we feel the surging vastness of God’s power. In the delicate beauty of a rose or an orchid or a lily, we see God’s artistry. The grandeur of creation reflects the greatness of its Creator. Nothing in creation, however, reflects the glory of God as brightly as did, and as does, Jesus. The Word which fashioned creation became flesh in Jesus, “and we have beheld his glory.”
Jesus is the most compelling and most complete portrait of God we will ever have, because he is God’s self-portrait. As the writer of Colossians said: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. . . In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15, 19). In other words, God is like Jesus.
God is like Jesus, which means that God welcomes sinners, shares table fellowship with the despised, and embraces those whom the world rejects. God offers the bread of meaning and the wine of joy to all who will receive them.
God is like Jesus, which means God is on the playground with children–singing, skipping and running with them; telling them stories that make their eyes grow wide with wonder and their hearts dance with glee; and blessing them with a love that enfolds them in delight.
God is like Jesus, which means God says to all of us who have been caught in sin and trapped in shame: “I forgive you. I accept you—just like you are.”
God is like Jesus, which means that God weeps with us when we confront death, as Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.
Like Jesus, God invites us, when life has gotten to be too much and we aren’t sure we can go on: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
God is like Jesus, which means that God kneels before us, bathes our feet in cool water, and cleanses from them the dust and grime of our journeys. God voluntarily becomes a slave in order to serve us.
Like Jesus, God suffers with us and for us. As Os Guinness said, “It is the unrivaled wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ that no other God has wounds” (No God but God, p. 113).
Most often, I think, the church has said something like this: “Jesus is so much like God that he is in fact God; therefore, we should worship him.” I believe that what the New Testament says is something more thrilling and astonishing than that: “God is so much like Jesus that we may trust and love God.”
Any image or concept of God, any feeling or conviction about God, and any claim or statement on God’s behalf that does not reflect the character and spirit of Jesus Christ is partial at best. The New Testament’s most important message is not “Jesus is God-like”; it is, rather, “God is Christ-like.”